Allan Mayer’s Tasting the Wind takes us into a realm far darker than many a fictional or true life horror story. Neglect, physical, sexual and mental abuse, torture, ridicule and murder. It is not a story set in World War 11 enemy prison camps. No, these are places that have existed since the 13th century, starting with Bethlem Royal Institution, commonly known as Bedlam.

The somewhat hapless, but extremely funny, sensitive and caring Martin Peach is thrown into what is hopefully the tail end of a very dark stain on British history following the breakup of his relationship. Two hundred miles from home, living with a couple of lovable ‘oddballs’, coping with integrating six institutionalised people with so called ‘learning difficulties’ into the community and … tangled up in solving a murder that happened ten years previously.

I got very attached to the new occupants of ‘the Bungalow’, learning difficulties? It brings to mind one of my Granny’s sayings, ‘He’s not as green as he’s cabbage looking.’ I don’t know if it was Allan Mayer’s intention, but he has shown through his writing that it is a very large proportion of the general population that has the learning difficulty.

Allan Mayer’s portrayal of life in institutions and helping to forge new lives for his characters, is stunningly accurate and poignant. His skilful injection of humour and compassion coupled with a very clever murder mystery to solve, make this a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling read.

Allan is very generously giving half of his royalties to Derian House Childrens Hopice.


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