The People of the Sea: an account of the adventures of Riding Office Joseph Wheatley by Keith Brooke
Until he found the mermaid it had been a normal day for Joseph Wheatley: on leaving his house he had found something vile smeared across the door, and later some children in the street had called names and thrown a few stones. No one had threatened to kill him, at least. Wheatley was a Riding Officer, employed by the local Collector of Customs to patrol the shore between Beaumont and Harwich, a part of the on-going struggle against the smuggling gangs who used this coast for their illegal activities. As almost every family in these parts either worked for, or bought goods from, the so-called "Free Traders" his role was not a popular one. A story of duty and adventure, in an eighteenth century England where worlds collide and mermaids might just wash up on the beach. An alternate history SF novelette from the writer of the Philp K Dick Award-shortlisted Harmony, an author "in the recognized front ranks of SF writers" (Locus).