I was keen to read Snared by Bob Berzins and did a book swop with him for one of my books, Killing by Proxy. Bob’s book is a fictional wildlife story of a gamekeeper, John, his young underkeeper, Sam, and the illegal activities they are involved in on the grouse moor on which they are employed. As sometimes is the case, the owner of the estate lives elsewhere and only visited during the shooting season. The gamekeepers are under the control of an agent, Mr Hawston, who treats them like dirt and has them working every available hour of the day. In the end John’s wife takes the kids and leaves him.
I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away but it was interesting that I had experienced almost every illegal twist and turn of the book in real-life investigations. At this point I’ll state that most gamekeepers are hard-working, decent folk trying to do a job that is becoming more and more unpopular with the public because of the way it is carried out by the characters John and Sam, and more especially by Mr Hawston. Despite, so far as I know, not having an investigative background, the author has painted an almost accurate picture of the criminality that takes place on the worst of grouse moors. (I’ll let him off with the poetic licence of shooting a couple of flying raptors with a rifle).
I don’t suppose they will ever read this book, but it is one that really should be read by every gamekeeper who still kills what the characters in the book call ‘vermin’: raptors and badgers, sometimes – as John and Sam do – crossing the boundary fence of other farms and estates to do so. They would maybe realise, through fact dressed as fiction, that they are the fall guys for rogue agents or landowners, how disposable they are, how working night and day affects family life and how illegal practices reflects on other gamekeepers trying to work within the law.
Snared is a book with a surprising ending and which I read over two days. Having communicated with Bob Berzins since finishing the book he is trying to persuade me to venture into fiction writing. I’m not convinced I am creative enough for this type of writing but I’ve no project for the coming winter so may give it a go. It can always be binned if it beats me or if it turns out to be rubbish.
Snared can be bought through Bob’s website at www.bob-berzins.co.uk