A hapless gang of crooks, led by pawnbroker Harold Sneed, have managed pull off 'the big one': a wages snatch at a factory in Shrewsbury. Two gang members take the money back to Birmingham by train, changing at a station almost on the doorstep of Sir Humphrey of Batch Hall.
It's there that things start to unravel. The money goes missing. Misunderstanding follows misunderstanding, until it leads the crooks to Batch Hall when everyone is busy with a historical re-enactment show. Among the replica firearms is a real gun, carried by Harold Sneed with murderous intent and Humphrey in mind.
Sneed is now convinced that Humphrey - an overweight former short-order cook from the Bronx - is a Mafia mobster lying low. And on top of this, he believes Humph has his money; as a result, the spectators at Batch Hall are in for more of a show than they bargained for...What readers are saying about The Batch Magna Chronicles series:
An enchanting mixture of The Wind in The Willows and The Darling Buds of May. An England that doesn't exist but surely should.
Reading this book was like sitting down for a nice long chat with an old friend. I loved reading the Welsh village descriptions; it felt like coming home. ... I eagerly await the next instalment of the Batch Magna crew!
I first got this book out of the local library, and then brought a copy - I wanted to read it again and again. It's a treasure, a smashing read, funny and beautifully written.
These books are such fun, darkly comic and full of great characters. ... Batch Magna is a place I would love to find, and the river sounds idyllic.
Hurrah for Batch Magna, Humphrey and friends.
I loved this book. It's lyrical and very amusing, with all the charm of an old Ealing comedy. ... More please Mr Maughan!
What an amazing writer! I have never found any descriptive writing that has gripped me so much before.
A thoroughly enjoyable read. ... Is there another Batch Magna book on the way, please? Such a wonderfully descriptive bucolic and warmly 'human' story with echoes of the Darling Buds of May.
A wonderful, funny, well-crafted escape from everyday life. If you love writing that absorbs you into the landscape you will love this book. Every sense was satisfied with the author's beautiful descriptions of the Marches. Escape from the tarmac, concrete and relentlessness of life with this stunning book. Thank you Mr Maughan.
I absolutely loved this book and all the characters became so real to me, I just couldn't put it down.
Peter Maughan's early ambition to be a landscape painter ran into a lack of talent - or enough of it to paint to his satisfaction what he saw. He worked on building sites, in wholesale markets, on fairground rides and in a circus. And travelled the West Country, roaming with the freedom of youth, picking fruit, and whatever other work he could get, sleeping wherever he could, before moving on to wherever the next road took him. A journeying out of which came his non-fiction work Under the Apple Boughs, when he came to see that he had met on his wanderings the last of a village England. After travelling to Jersey in the Channel Islands to pick potatoes, he found work afterwards in a film studio in its capital, walk-ons and bit parts in the pilot films that were made there, and as a contributing script writer. He studied at the Actor's Workshop in London, and worked as an actor in the UK and Ireland (in the heyday of Ardmore Studios). He founded and ran a fringe theatre in Barnes, London, and living on a converted Thames sailing barge among a small colony of houseboats on the River Medway, wrote pilot film scripts as a freelance deep in the green shades of rural Kent. An idyllic, heedless time in that other world of the river, which later, when he had collected enough rejection letters learning his craft as a novelist, he transported to a river valley in the Welsh Marches, and turned into the Batch Magna novels.
He is married and lives currently in Wales. Visit Peter's website at http://www.batchmagna.com.
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