"A Large Measure of Snow: A Tale From Kinloch" is a really lovely short novel by Denzil Meyrick. It's also quite unlike anything we've read from him before. Denzil Meyrick is best known as the author of the bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Daley series of contemporary crime novels set in the fictional town of Kinloch, based closely on the real Campbeltown near the southern end of Argyll's Kintyre peninsula.
The setting remains familiar in one sense. As the subtitle implies, "A Large Measure of Snow: A Tale From Kinloch" is set in Kinloch. But this isn't a crime novel and neither is it contemporary. Instead we find ourselves in Kinloch in December 1967 and the town cut off by heavy snowfalls. With all roads closed and supplies running out, the only way to provide food (and drink) for the population of Kinloch is for the fishing fleet to sail to Girvan for provisions.
We'll let the cover blurb pick up the story: "But the skipper of the Girl Maggie, Sandy Hoynes, has a problem. First mate Hamish has, to everyone's astonishment, been chosen as Young Fisherman of the Year by a Glasgow newspaper. Marooned in the town and with one eye on a scoop, their reporter decides to join the fishing crew on their mercy mission. The thought of the publicity - and some remuneration - delights Hoynes. But Hamish hasn't told him the whole story. As the blizzards worsen, the crew of the Girl Maggie embark upon a trip like no other, encountering ghostly Vikings, gigantic crustaceans and a helpful seagull."
The book is described, again on the cover, as: "a warm, hilarious, sometimes poignant tale in the fine tradition of Compton Mackenzie and Neil Munro." That sums it up perfectly. We definitely found ourselves thinking of Para Handy's exploits on the Vital Spark as we followed the various misadventures of a hallucinating skipper, an accident-prone mate and a seasick reporter, all thrown together in a genuinely life-threatening situation. It would be easy to say the story ends with the discovery of a shipwreck on the shore near Girvan: but also misleading as it's not the Girl Maggie. A fine and thoroughly enjoyable winter's tale.