Last year, I included in Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books the notable first novel by Stanley Hyland, Who Goes Hang? Today I’m highlighting another of his books, Green Grow the Tresses-O, which was first published in 1965, at which time Hyland lived and worked on the periphery of politics, producing political broadcasts for television, as well as being involved with a wide range of other TV shows.
Because Hyland was a busy man, he did not have much time for novel writing and he only wrote three novels in all; I found Top Bloody Secret, which involved the secret services, only so-so. But Green Grow the Tresses-O is a short and snappy story, which benefits from a dramatic opening, with the discovery of that a blonde Italian girl has met a messy end in the machinery in a Yorkshire mill. It’s very different from Who Goes Hang? Yet I think it’s at least as good, even if not as well remembered nowadays.
From there, a mystery involving an element of international intrigue develops. A high-security American base is near to the mill – is there a link with the killing of Gina Mazzoni? And is the unsolved murder of another girl two years ago connected?
This is an enjoyable story with some nice humour and a good final twist. Although he moved to London to pursue his career, Hyland was a Yorkshireman, and he portrays the people of his home county entertainingly and well. It is a pity that he did not have more time to devote to the genre – he definitely had a talent for it.