Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

A cornucopia of bizarre deaths and unsolved murders

HOT’s Carole Benton reviews local author Helena Wojtczak’s latest work: Strange Exits from Hastings: A Cornucopia of Bizarre Deaths and Unsolved Murders.

All of the family, as well as local history buffs, will really enjoy reading a new book, published by Hastings Press, entitled Strange Exits from Hastings. The author, Helena Wojtczak, is well known as a knowledgeable contributor to our local community history, as the author of a range of titles including Notable Sussex Women, Railway Women and Women of Victorian Sussex. She is the founder of publisher Hastings Press.

This is a mainly witty compilation of stories originally featured in the local newspaper, the Hastings and St Leonards Observer, archives which have been taken from bald facts and illustrated with photographs and maps and a brisk narrative laying out extra details, additional characters and accounts of relevant events of the time.

Some of the tales are funny, some are gruesomely horrific, but all are intriguing and memorable. In some, the trial transcripts show how different court room procedures were in the days of rigid class boundaries and others are an illustration of come-uppance in the face of snobbery and entitlement. Some are just tales of karma and the justice of natural events.

Under “normal” circumstances this would be a best-seller in bookshops in the local area and would make good presents for tourists and visitors to the True Crime museum, tourist information and at local events such as Jack-in-the-Green.

However, in these isolated and distanced days, the book is available to buy through the Hastings press website directly from the author. She has promised to autograph copies with a dedication of your choice. The cost is £10 plus postage and packing – a total of £11.83.

The monochrome cover should be an eye-catching introduction to the book on library shelves, post lockdown. If you are currently downloading books through the ESCC library app (RB Digital) I would urge you to wait for the physical book, because in a pdf layout it is hard to refer back to the maps. I also recommend this book to quiz compilers who like oddities and challenges for their teams to solve.

I am aware that there are virtual book clubs still operating via social media, but again, wait until you can meet up again and enjoy leafing through the pages and pointing out small details or moments that made you smile.



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Posted 08:32 Wednesday, Apr 29, 2020 In: Literature

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