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 continuing this unique series, Keith Moray takes the reader deep into the Hebrides to recount another Scottish murder mystery full of local nuances. Torquil ‘Piper’ McKinnon has recently returned home to West Uist, determined to leave his job as part of the constabulary behind. However, he soon learns that his friend and colleague, Ewan McPhee, has gone missing, his catamaran found floating in a local body of water. Could he have drowned or might his superior swimming capabilities have left him stranded elsewhere? Before McKinnon can ponder that too much, he must deal with some local disturbances. Jock McArdle recently purchased Dunshiffin Castle, thereby making him the laird. He’s decided to erect a number of wind turbines around West Uist to create a more environmental community, much to the dismay of the locals. The town seems divided, voicing their opinions about this new technology in a community that prides itself on simplicity. Another environmental issue seems to be rearing its head when a number of golden eagles have started targeting some of the animal population, noted by the new veterinary doctor who is being called out at all hours. Tragedy strikes the town when a man turns up dead, his body in a pool of rocks. The mangled remains have an unusual talon-like mark across the face, leaving many to wonder if the eagles might be involved. One death can be called an accident, but when more bodies begin to emerge, McKinnon is sure that there’s a serial killer on the loose and not of the feathered variety. Laird McArdle is also being targeted when one of his prized dogs is found poisoned, demanding that action be taken, though McKinnon cannot shake that something seems off about this man and his retinue. McKinnon is unsure what to make of it all, but with a superior officer demanding results and the local journalist writing sensational stories in the local paper, he’ll need to act fast before West Uist turns into an embarrassment across all of Scotland. Moray has a wonderful way with words and spins a great tale here. Surely a series that will keep gaining 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 the first novel in the series, I was pulled in as soon as I took the time to read the dust jacket blurb. This second novel was much the same, taking me back into Moray’s rural Scottish community and Torquil McKinnon proves to be a very interesting character, combining his reputation as a successful member of the constabulary with a strong connection to the locals. While this piece is less a chance to develop a backstory, McKinnon’s policing and struggles with superiors who are away from West Uist becomes apparent and is used throughout the novel as a means of currying favour with the reader. Many of the others who appear throughout the story are well presented and have their characteristics woven into the story in an effective manner, particularly Laird McArdle, who is the newcomer. Many supporting characters gain entry into the narrative and shape it effectively, adding humour and banter for the reader. The story itself is actually quite well done and its succinct delivery and keeps the narrative flowing well, though does not leave the reader feeling shortchanged whatsoever. 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’ll gladly read the rest of this series, if only to learn more about McKinnon and the West Uist community.
Kudos, Mr. Moray, for this wonderful follow-up piece. I enjoyed the story and its clipped delivery, which proves a refreshing alternative to much of what I have been reading.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons