Somerset, found in the south west of England, has always been a little strange and in this book its potential as a setting for Call of Cthulhu adventures is explored - very successfully! Complete with details of geography and local legends, a collection of NPCs, three complete scenarios and several more adventure seeds, there's all you need to make it happen.
The Introduction sets all in context, explaining the pleasant nature of the area and the underlying stories. Innocuous legends about dragons and witches, giants and fairies, have - the author claims - a deeper and darker origin in the Mythos. Seeing as that's where he grew up, he ought to know! Finally it introduces the (sadly fictitious) scholar Noah Ainley-Chant, a 19th century antiquarian and occultist, whose comments surface throughout the book.
Scene set, we next turn to the History of the region, which goes right back to prehistory. First, though, is a note on the Somerset dialect - Keepers being encouraged to develop some facility in it to render their NPCs more distinctive (but preferably not sounding like pirates, a common misconception!). It seems that the area was inhabited by humans, or their precursors, since the dawn of time even if they have left little more than the odd bone or shard of flint behind them. Erudite comments from Noah Ainley-Chant pepper the pages adding an air of verisimultude to what is a fairly accurate summary anyway. Adventure hooks are added where appropriate, just in case the text itself doesn't spark any ideas. History sweeps on, through Roman times and the Dark Ages (when the name King Arthur arises), Saxons, Middle Ages, and - via the Monmouth Rebellion - right up to the present day.
Next up, Geography. Physical features - rolling hills and lots of rivers - rub shoulders with numerous archaeological sites, before moving on to Locales, which provides details of areas of interest that may be sites for adventure or merely places that attract the investigators' attention for some reason or another. Many are linked into local legends, of which more anon. Many more plot ideas are scattered about here, as well. There's a more extensive section on the city of Bath, which covers its history as well as what it is like in the present day (or at least, in the 1920s). Hospitals, hotels, public buildings and other places to visit are listed here. A map is given but you may prefer to source a better one from an historical map site, and there's a chart of prices for 'taking the waters' for both 1890s and 1920s. Note that the waters are rather sulphurous and unpleasant (something not mentioned here) even if they are supposed to be good for you.
Then comes an extensive section of Legends and Customs. Many are location-based, linking back to the previous section, and there are many observations from Noah Ainley-Chant and plot ideas mixed in to the entries. However fanciful a legend may be, somewhere once there was some element of fact, a real event, item or person that triggered it. Dig deep, you never know what you might find. Here, of course, the root of each legend is given a Mythos twist. They make fascinating reading: standing stones, wassailing, witchcraft, and more.
The three full scenarios follow. Blood and Water mixes Grail legends with the Mythos, an unholy and sanity-wrenching mix that involves the Monarchy. Set in 1923, it begins with the death of Princess Helena Augusta Victoria, one of Queen Victoria's children, and some shady antics attributed to her husband a few years earlier... but it all begins when the party witnesses someone being thrown into a river! The plot thickens, cultists emerge, and the prize of immortality is dangled...
Next is Strange Little Girl. Madness and revenge power this tale, a creepy tale that begins with a strange letter received by one party member, who soon realises that it's intended for someone else of the same name and involves a strange girl and an occult investigator who seeks to banish her to the darkness from which she came.
The final full adventure is St.Swithun's Hole. It's a horror story involving vast underground caverns and begins, as many adventures do, in an inn to which the party has been invited by an antiquarian friend who has a tale to tell and a spot of caving to suggest. There's plenty to find down there for the brave and stout of heart (although not stout of figure, like many caves there are narrow bits you have to wriggle through).
As if these were not enough, there's an array of six adventure seeds you can develop into full adventures, as well as appendices covering cider, magic and local NPCs. Overall, a magnificent introduction to a fine area of Britain, ripe for investigation and well-suited to the Mythos, which has been masterfully entwined with real-world information about Somerset.