Samson's Hoard

 Samson's Hoard, by John Verney

Here we have the apparently almost unknown fifth volume in John Verney's Callendar Family series!  It was published in 1973, 14 years after the first volume.  They go:

  • Friday's Tunnel
  • February's Road
  • Seven Sunflower Seeds
  • ismo
  • Samson's Hoard

and they're narrated by various Callendar children -- whoever is about 14-15 at the time of the story.  This one is told by Berry, who is also the narrator of ismo.

Dad is retiring from his journalism job -- no really this time -- and it's time for the family to downsize and move into Querbury proper.  They purchase a nice older home with a constantly overflowing water cistern, everybody settles in, and Dad decides to run for a seat on the town council.  One issue at stake is what to do with the gigantic old maltings on the edge of town; tear it down for a new road, or preserve it and turn it into a community center?  This is the sane plot, all sane and normal.

But there's a car bombing; who was it meant for?  Is there oil out under the fields of the Callendars' old home?  Why did their neighbor block off part of their cellar, and did a stolen hoard of Inca gold make its way to Querbury 300 years ago?  Verney's trademark style is for everything to become highly complex and improbable, and then you (along with the narrator) have to figure out what is real and what isn't.

I think that the first two books in this series are the best ones; they are great.  The last three aren't as good, but they're still pretty darn good, though ismo and Samson's Hoard are more intelligible on a second reading.  I wish someone like Slightly Foxed would reprint the whole series so they wouldn't be forgotten.

All the stories are also illustrated by Verney, in a style I like very much. 


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