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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Visiting the scene of the crime

Today is the anniversary of the tragic Lynmouth flood disaster in August 1952 when a giant wall of water rushed down the steep river valley into the village, washing away everything in its path along the way. Many buildings in the village were destroyed and 34 people lost their lives.

By coincidence my husband and I stayed in the village last weekend, celebrating our wedding anniversary.

As we walked up the valley alongside the beautiful East Lyn River we tried to imagine the torrent of water cascading down the valley on the night of the flood and the terror of the power of nature.

A few months ago I read Pam Vass's novel Seeds of Doubt, which depicts the trauma of that dreadful night and weaves in the conspiracy theory that the disaster was caused by clandestine experiments by scientists, attempting to control the weather.

It's a fascinating story and well worth a read. Here's my review which I posted on the Goodreads website.


The Lynmouth flood disaster has always been one of those events embedded in my memory, not because it happened in my life-time, but because it was a childhood story told to me by my mum. Lynmouth was a favourite place of hers and she was devastated by what happened that day in August 1952.

So to discover Seeds of Doubt was a mystery based around the suspicion of the time, that the Lynmouth floods were caused by man-made interference with the weather, and that the author had used actual documents which were alleged to support such accusations within the plot of the book, I just had to read it.

Pamela Vass has written a great story, not only because of those enticing true allegations at the centre of events, but by making her main character, local journalist Ingrid Clarke, emotionally involved with the event she’s investigating, brought a personal and extra heartfelt layer to the book. We know Ingrid is hiding something and we read on, desperate to discover what her secret is. When we find out, we feel her trauma.

With the world suffering “extreme weather events” in recent times, it felt very topical. I wanted to pick up the book and wave it under a drama producer’s nose and suggest it would make good viewing for TV or film! (If only I knew any TV drama producers, I would...)

My only regret is that my mum is no longer around to read this compelling story. She would have loved it as much as I did.


To find out more go to the books page in the menu above or click on the image

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