Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scottish Mystery Trilogy

Mystery fans who like Tartan Noir Scottish mysteries might enjoy A.D. Scott's three mysteries set in a small highland town in the 1950's.

A Small Death in the Great Glen (2010)
A Double Death on the Black Isle (2011)
Beneath the Abbey Wall (2012)

Not quite dark and brooding enough to be considered 'Tartan Noir' and definitely not as dark as Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus mysteries, these books will appeal to fans of Val McDermid or Kate Atkinson. I just finished the third in Scott's series.

Beneath the Abbey Wall finds the staff of the weekly 'Highland Gazette' shocked by the brutal murder of their business manager Mrs. Smart. The assistant editor is charged with the crime while the rest of the newspaper staff try to clear his name. Set in a fictional town in the Highlands of Scotland in 1957, the weather described several times as dreich (dreary, dark, damp etc) sets a somber tone for this mystery, but the appeal of the characters is the bright spot in this series. From the mysterious Jenny McPhee, matriarch of the travelers, or tinkers, to the crusty news editor to the local gentry and the young people enthralled by the new American import, rock 'n' roll, the books evoke a time and place not long after World War II that will appeal to the many Scotophiles (is there such a word?) in the United States.The Canadian visitor who helps out at the newspaper describes his and perhaps many colonial's attitude about Scotland,
"I believed all those tales about Highland hospitality, about everyone looking out for everyone, about the mountains and glens being so bonnie they broke your heart..." (241 - 242) What he finds out about his past is not so bonnie, his pilgrimage to his mother's homeland uncovers some secrets that are difficult to reconcile with the Scotland of his imagination. For all those Americans who can trace their roots to the Highland Clearances, so often mentioned in the book, if we go back, do we find what we are looking for?

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