Strange events are once again descending on Liverpool. The fictional version of the town returns in Vernon Oickle's latest book Four Crows a Boy, being launched at Lane's Privateer Inn this Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.
The fourth book in Vernon Oickle's series following the rhyme One Crow Sorrow is set to be released this week, at Lane's Privateer Inn.
The launch at Lane's will include a musical performance by Under the Covers. The newly formed local band specializes in folk and blues tunes, and is made up Mike Bienstock, Robert Whitelaw, Robie Sagar and Tim Reeves-Horton.
According to the books synopsis, in Liverpool, where the crows have reigned supreme for centuries, carrying out their missions that often blur the lines of good and evil, it’s been three years since the powerful birds swooped in to stop a psychotic killer on a murderous killing spree. Since then, they have faded into the background.
But now that several young boys have arrived in Liverpool, four of the black avian warriors have resurfaced, and the town’s residents are thrust once again into a series of events that defy explanation, taking many of them on a journey beyond the realm of possibility—and reality.
As with all the other stories, this one follows a different protagonist and different situation. Oickle says he writes them this way so they don't get stagnant. It also makes it easier for the reader to pick up the series anywhere.
However readers familiar with the series will also be able to pick them up and recognized core characters and the setting from the previous three books.
"Each story is self-contained within each book," says Oickle.
This also gives him a chance to vary the plot and the tone of the books, while still using the same characters and setting. The last three had a very dark and sinister feel, he says, while the latest book is a bit of a departure.
"The tone of this story is quite a bit different. I find it lighter, not quite as dark," he says.
The book is still fits into the series however, which itself follows the poem "One Crow Sorrow." Since each book already has a title and an expected theme, writing it can be a little tricky, he says.
"It has to mean something to the story," he says. "The challenge was not to make the mystery so obvious to begin with."
Four crows have to come into play, and then there has to be a connection to a boy. However boy can be interpreted in different ways, he says.
The same artist that has done the last three covers also created the latest cover. Interestingly, he doesn't read the book before hand. He is just given a synopsis and goes from there. Oickle says the results are great though.
"He pretty much bangs it out the first time. I'm very pleased with how they turn out," he says.
The series has met with success so far, and publisher Bryler Publications has considered them best sellers. The first one has even gone into a second printing. The reader feedback has been good as well, he says. Usually within a few weeks he hears questions about when the next book will come out.
Four Crows a Boy marks the midway point in the series, following the most common version of the rhyme. There is potential to go beyond seven books, using other versions of the rhyme, but the books are building towards a finale of sorts by the seventh.
"Certainly by number seven if all comes together, it will answer a lot of questions," he says.
Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool, was first reporter then editor of the The Advance. In 1994, he moved over to the Bridgewater Bulletin as editor, and has remained there ever since.
This is book number 18 for Oickle, who's writing career has spanned everything from novels to books on folklore.