I've just read the Soskin book, and thought I would share a few thoughts.
Comparisons with "Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail" are inevitable; in part, because some of the same characters inhabit both narratives, and also because the Soskin book attempts a similar breezy, laconic style, without ever quite achieving it, lacking as it does Christopher Dawes' more practiced and polished writing style. Indeed, there are times when the book lapses into rambling anecdote territory, and much of the humour falls flat.
This is a shame, because with some judicious editing, this could have been a much better book than it is. The raw material is certainly there. Unfortunately, so much is written in direct quotations, and the structure appears so haphazard, with certain topics given much more space than others, that a coherent narrative voice never really emerges.
That said, there is much to enjoy. Hugo Soskin's obvious affection for the area's many delights comes across strongly, and proves that one doesn't need to care one whit about the mystery of RLC in order to derive immense pleasure from being in the region. The "Moolong" campsite, whose restaurant Hugo ends up running, sounds like a fun place to be, and the book is at its best when conveying the hazy pleasures of long Languedoc afternoons, which made this reader feel wistful and nostalgic.
Although the mystery of RLC is coincidental to much of the narrative, it hovers in the background, and in the form of the eccentric, and at times downright dotty people who pitch up at Moolong, convinced either that they have the answer to the great secret of RLC, or more humourously still, that Hugo's scepticism is a clever ruse designed to conceal an interest in the mystery that is as deep as his father's.
It is the relationship between Hugo and Henry Lincoln which was of the most interest to me. Reading between the lines - indeed, sometimes just reading the text as it stands - it becomes clear that theirs is a somewhat uneasy kinship, albeit without evident malice. The book concludes with a convincingly argued "sceptic's account" of the RLC mystery, which could almost be read as a repudiation of his father's work. I even wondered if this was a very deliberate intention on his part.
So it's a moderately interesting read, for those who are familiar with the area; rather less so for those who are not; and somewhat forgettable. The reason the Dawes book scored so highly with me is that amidst all the high jinks and badinage there was a thoughtful and intelligent summation of the mystery's various strands, including a few real gems of intuition, all of which is greatly enlivened by the presence of the larger than life character of Rat Scabies. It was a much better book than I expected it to be when I bought it. Hugo Soskin's book, on the other hand, amounts to rather less than I expected, or hoped.
But it was still an enjoyable read, for all that. I finished the book liking Hugo, and liking his admirably down-to-earth wife even more, and pleased that they thought to share their story.