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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 August 2008
Sited somewhere between a historical mystery and a ghost story, this has doctoral student Alice, an American in Kent, attempt to start research on the WW2 cover-up of a mysterious incident on Slapton Sands. Based on a true event, Cottam sets the story in 1976, the bi-centennial of America, but though the intention might have been something more profound on nationalism, nationhood, war etc. this, for me, was a fairly lightweight story, not unengaging, but not particularly deep either.

Alice is a fairly unlikeable character and her easy acceptance of ghosts (a few too many in a single novel perhaps), and the simplistic ways she solves the mystery including discovering a note from a key character that has been buried on the beach since 1944 is all very prosaic and pat. The insistent references to 1970s culture is very, very intrusive, and character delineation fairly shallow. And yet this has a certain interest that kept me reading, and has some spooky moments. A good holiday read in the sun.
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on 20 October 2013
Having read, and loved, the novels of F.G Cottam, I decided to give the work he wrote as Francis Cottam a go. I liked "Slapton Sands". Compared to his more recent books the supernatural element is vague, but it still makes for a decent read.
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on 9 June 2011
I have just finished this irritating book and googled the author as I felt he must be an American with a slight knowledge of Britain. As another reviewer has mentioned, there is far too much information about the 1970s, but where did it come from? I was here in the 70s, and also in the US, and I don't recognise either. Why does Cottam think Marlborough was one of the most popular cigarettes in the UK in the 70s for instance?
The characters are completely wooden but also unlikeable. Don't waste any time on this.
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on 8 March 2014
having been a student only a couple of years after this book was set part of my enjoyment was due to the 1970s references that so annoyed another reviewer. In the circles I mixed in everyone did smoke marlboroughs or rolled their own. Alice may not be loveable but I've met people like her ( and sometimes maybe even thought like her ) and I think the author pinned the anti-american sentiment at the time pretty well. I wanted to know what happened next ... and I wanted to find out more about the real incident at slapton sands.. and I enjoyed the book, bought second hand, enough to look on Google to find if the author had written others
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on 2 November 2011
I read F G Cottam's House of Lost Souls which was so good I went straight back to the beginning and read it again, I then read Dark Echo another wonderfully spooky read. Sadly Slapton Sands, written under the name Francis Cottam, did not live up to my expectations of F G Cottam I was very disappointed and wondered if written under F G Cottam it would have been a better tale. I have since read the Magdalen Curse and the Waiting Room and enjoyed them both and continue to be a great fan of F G Cottam - but maybe not Francis Cottam.
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on 18 December 2005
Knowing a little bit about the secret scandal of Slapton Sands in World War 2, I expected this novel to really illuminate and inform. In fact, the story seems to tiptoe around the truth of what happened, and even tries to whitewash it. The central character is unconvincing, and the 'ghosts' simply make the whole novel yet more incredible. I did not care for anyone is the story - even the 1500 needlessly slaughtered American boys fail to attract sympathy, with the repeated line of - well they would have died anyway in the Normandy landings.
The writing is cool and detached. The only thing I liked was the American take on England in 1976.
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on 20 February 2015
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