The Gathering Murders (Torquil McKinnon #1), by Keith Moray

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Keith Moray, and Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

In this series debut, Keith Moray takes the reader deep into the Hebrides to recount this Scottish murder mystery sure to impress with its local nuances. Torquil ‘Piper’ McKinnon heads up the West Uist Constabulary, a quiet force of three bracing for two significant events coming to the island for the weekend. The Gathering includes a bagpipe competition for which Torquil has been preparing al his life and shows off the true Highland nature of the Scottish cultural persona. The West Uist Literary Festival brights authors and book-lovers alike together to celebrate the written word in all its forms. When a Gaelic poet is found murdered, Torquil begins investigating, but cannot find many who might have wanted him dead, save for those who respect true poetry and hated his sub-par attempt. However, when author Fiona Cullen is found floating off the coast, the list of suspects is plentiful. Cullen’s novels seek to explore a thinly-veiled attack on certain people who have been involved in her life, usually causing quite a stir. Torquil must suppress the romantic relationship he had with Cullen and seek to find her killer. With an apparent serial killer on the loose in this quiet community, Torquil will have to act quickly, as suspects are soon to leave for the mainland. Trying to find a common thread between the victims, Torquil intensifies the investigation just as another body emerges. Will West Uist soon receive unwanted police presence from the Hebridean Constabulary to clean-up a mess that the locals cannot handle? Moray has a wonderful way with words and spins a decent tale here. Surely a series that will gain momentum as readers flock in its direction. Wonderful for those who want a murder mystery with much Scottish heritage woven throughout.

When the publisher approached me to read and review this piece, I was pulled in as soon as I took the time to read the dust jacket blurb. Moray transports the reader to a rural Scottish community and offers all the traditional descriptions, including a peppering of Gaelic phrasing. Torquil McKinnon proves to be a very interesting character, weighing his personal connection to the community against his desire to serve as one of its police officials. The reader will discover much of this man in the narrative, from his passion for bagpiping through to his fairly straightforward approach to policing. Added to that, the struggle to stay on the path when one of his love interests has been slain provides the story some interesting flavour. Many of the others who appear throughout the story are well presented and have their characteristics woven into the story in an effective manner. The story itself is actually quite well done, though its brevity keeps the reader from getting too far off the beaten path. Moray crafts his story in a succinct manner and keeps the story flowing well. While some may be familiar with ‘big city’ and tangential police procedurals, the reader can enjoy this close-knit story that fills the pages with Scottish lore! I’d gladly read another in this series, if only to learn more about McKinnon and the West Uist community.

Kudos, Mr. Moray, for this wonderful debut piece. I enjoyed the story and its brevity, which proves a refreshing alternative to much of what I have been reading.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: