Foul Hooked - Islay Manley

Foul Hooked - Islay Manley

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The Welsh Borders in the 1950s Salmon and trout aren’t the only species under threat in this tale of love, hate, murder – and fly fishing.

When a local boy is found drowned in the River Tossy, most people assume it’s an accident – and few tears are shed for a uniquely nasty individual.

But Meg Marsden and her husband Andy, come recently to the riverbank village of Coedafon for the fishing, gradually realise that there are equally unpleasant people still alive – and one or more is a murderer. Peaceful though the village may be on the surface, it’s only a matter of time before other bodies are dragged from the river.

In the face of police indifference, Meg, narrowly surviving several vicious attempts on her life, finally unearths the horrifying truth – so life returns to normal. Or does it?

Islay Manley was born Isabel Munro in India in 1908. Her parents were both Scots. Sir David Munro, as he became, was a senior officer in the Indian Medical Service and later the first Director of the RAF’s Medical Service and then Rector of St Andrew’s University in Scotland.

Highly intelligent, Islay followed her parents by reading for an arts degree at St Andrew’s, in an era when this was rare for a woman. After graduating she was for a time the university’s Registrar, a great achievement for that time.

She eventually married Herbert Manley, a river bailiff on the River Wye on the Welsh borders. His was a second marriage and he was older than her, but they were very happy together for over a decade.

After Herbert’s death in the early 50s she moved to Buckinghamshire to be with her widowed mother and then settled near Campeltown in Argyll, close to her mother’s surviving relations. There she remained until her death in 1984.

Islay was a keen naturalist and water-colourist of nature all her life, and privately-published a descriptive book of her observations, called ‘Field and Forest’.

She and Herbert had no children but she was a much-loved Aunt, with a host of friends and interests including gardening, wine, fishing, dogs, the natural world and literature.

‘Foul Hooked’ is her first and last detective story. Meg Marsden, her amateur woman detective hero, is clearly based on her own circumstances and character.