Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“Dyson lured me on, but I’ve only myself to blame. I got cocky and dropped my guard. He saw his opening and caught me good and proper with tales of easy pickings. I don’t mind admitting, it was greed that got the better of me.”
Here’s a rare treat of a book. Burning Secret is a fantastic epiphany that follows the fates of one Harry Mason (although that’s not his real name). Born one Enoch Price, the story starts with Price’s bid to escape poverty through bare-knuckle fighting amongst London’s seedy underbelly in the mid-1800s. Alas getting into serious debt to a violent and unscrupulous moneylender leaves him facing ruin and imprisonment.
What’s a man to do except high tail it to Florida, abandoning his wife and three
young daughters, a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life. This is where he takes on the name Harry Mason and due to his irrepressible nature becomes a key part of the history of Jacksonville. His extraordinary new life leads to not only political and financial notoriety, but also getting into shootouts, covering up a murder and taking a bigamous second wife.
Burning Secret sucks you in and makes you feel Harry’s torment – the wages of his choices up the need to conceal his true identity and dubious past.
Lloyd peppers the novel with letters, newspaper clippings and the like add flavour to the world we’re visiting here and an engaging Afterword is a bonus as it gives a host of background information about the people in the book and those who were affected by the events. Note – this is worth referring to as you read as it helps give additional context.
The plot sees the seasons and years march on and Harry elected in to the Florida State House of Representatives with the prospect of becoming State Governor. He can’t help himself though and the list of things he has to hide keeps growing. As he contends with the First World War, Spanish flu pandemic and prohibition – the story crackles with historical authenticity and evokes a lively need to keep reading.
I can heartily recommend this to anyone who loves a good book. It is one of the very tomes I will return to and read again at some future date!
After retiring as a senior police officer, I turned my detective skills to genealogy, tracing my family history to the 16th century. However, after 15 years of extensive research, I couldn’t track down my great-great-grandfather, Enoch Price, whose wife, Eliza, had, in living memory, helped raise my mother. It was my cousin Gillian who, after several more dead-ends, called one day to say that she had found him through a fluke encounter. Susan Sperry from California, who had recently retired, decided to explore the box of documents given to her thirty years before by hermother, which she had never opened. In the box, she found some references to her great-grandfather, Harry Mason, a wealthy hotel owner from Florida who had died in 1919.
It soon transpired that Susan’s great-grandfather, Harry Mason, was, in fact, Enoch Price. From this single thread, the extraordinary story of Harry Mason began to unravel, leading me to visit the States to meet my American cousins, and it was Susan Sperry and Kimberly Mason, direct descendants, who persuaded me to write the book.
I graduated from Warwick with a joint in Philosophy and Psychology and a Masters in Marketing
from UWE. Since leaving a thirty-year career in policing, I’ve been a non executive director with
the NHS, social housing, and other charities.
I live with my wife in Bristol, spending my time travelling, writing and producing delicious plum
jam from the trees on my award-winning allotment
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