Smugglers’ gold: Winchelsea, by Alex Preston, reviewed

The atmospheric medieval town of Rye on the south coast still celebrates being a former haunt of smugglers, and on foggy nights it’s not hard to imagine stealthy figures in the shadows rolling barrels of illicit rum down its cobbled streets. Alex Preston has relocated to nearby Winchelsea, making it the setting for this maritime yarn. But any residual glamour attaching to these tax-averse citizens of Sussex is largely dispelled in a tale with as many moral qualms as thrilling exploits. Goody Brown recounts the cross-dressing adventures of her youth as the sole female member of the infamous Hawkhurst gang in the 1740s. Rescued from the sea as a baby