Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid (2008)

It had been a few years since Karen had last taken the single-track road to Newton of Wemyss. But it was obvious that the hamlet had undergone the same transformation as its sister villages on the main road. Commuters had fallen ravenous upon all four of the Wemyss villages, seeing rustic possibilities in what had been grim little miners' rows. One-bedroom hovels had been knocked through to make lavish cottages, back yards transformed by conservatories that poured light into gloomy living-kitchens. Villages that had shrivelled and died following the Michael pit disaster in '67 and the closures that followed the 1984 strike had found a new incarnation as dormitories whose entire idea of community was a pub quiz night. In the village shops you could buy a scented candle but not a pint of milk. The only way you could tell there had ever been a mining community was the scale model of pit winding gear that straddled the point where the private steam railway had once crossed the main road laden with open trucks of coal bound for the railhead at Thornton Junction. Now, the whitewashed miners' rows looked like an architect's deliberate choice of what a vernacular village ought to look like. Their history had been overwhelmed by a designer present.

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