Findo’s Mousetrap is the debut self-published novel from Graham Paskett. Set across rural Scotland, London and New England, it tells the story of an aristocratic heir, Findo Gask, his childhood friend Andrew McCubbin and Dympna Doyle, an Irish-American radio producer. The titular Mousetrap is the invention of Gask and McCubbin, and is a device capable of using energy, data and historical details to replay significant moments that have taken place throughout history.
The story follows Gask as he introduces his invention to the world by appearing on the Today programme on Radio 4, where he meets the captivating Ms Doyle, and the clashes between the new, inventive and technological world of London and the desire from Gask’s father that he should return to Scotland to take over running of the family estate and abandon the invention.
There is a great deal of potential in the Mousetrap to reveal interesting and controversial moments in history, several of which are demonstrated – one, the owner of a large country house wants to know whether a member of the royal family visited his ancestors; in another, Gask’s mother tells him to look into a room in their own home, not knowing fully what took place there, but wanting her son to investigate.
Not only does this second inquiry into history result in the destruction of the device by an enraged Lord Gask, but it also reveals the main stumbling point of the story: a lack of real consequence to uncovering new information, and the dangers that revealing secrets could involve.
In delving into the past of the wealthy and powerful, there is great potential to discover uncomfortable truths, questionable activities or even something downright illegal. There is a brief mention of how the powerful and aristocratic may not want their family secrets to be revealed, lest they erode their money and influence over society. What might they do to prevent a window to the past being opened? How could the Mousetrap’s potential endanger its inventors and their loved ones? Unfortunately, this potential story line is never fully explored.
On a much more intimate level, there is also the personal discovery that Gask makes at his mother’s urging, which reveals an awkward piece of family history, which could have consequences for his immediate family and his relationship with his best friend, McCubbin, the son of the family estate manager. Once more there is the potential for the story to become one of family intrigue, with the difficulty of having knowledge that has been long repressed by those who were present, and what would be the cost of telling the truth. Once again, this is a path not taken.
But enough of where the story didn’t take us, and back to the road it does travel. Findo’s Mousetrap is a light, fast moving and page turning story of romance between Gask and Doyle, the difficulties of marrying up family traditions with modern ambition, and the potential joy that can be found in connecting with the past. It is well written, with a central plot device that lives in a wonderful grey area between science and science fiction, but at no point is presented as anything other than totally believable – in spite of the scepticism demonstrated by a number of characters.
What the story of Findo’s Mousetrap really needs, is a sequel. The characters are engaging, the technology intriguing and the writing beautifully paced, so let’s see it take the next step.