The interest in all things Scotland is making a return with the wildly popular Outlander books recently turned into a television series on STARZ pay channel. This new mystery series takes a different approach to the Scottish tartan and bagpipe music laden theme. Let's see how well the first book in the Scottish Highland mystery series did.
If you are here for the Spooktacular Blog Hop, it is the post just below (prior) to this review. Look around a bit, you will find plenty of mystery and suspense book related posts, reviews, and author interviews or guest posts.
Copyright: October 2014 (Berkley) 304 pgs
Series: 1st in Scottish Highlands Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Scottish Cozy
Main Characters: Eden Elliott, recently divorced and contracted to author romance novel
Setting: Modern day, Glenkillen Scotland
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Eden has had a terrible year. Her mother, who she had nursed, recently passed away plus her husband left her. Her best friend Ami is a romance author and helps her to get a contract to write romance novels, and pays for her to go to Scotland for 2 weeks minimum up to 6 months max as research for her book and a fresh start. She succumbs to Ami's plans and on the plane trip makes friends with Vicki MacBride who is going to the same small town. Vicki's estranged father left Vicki his country estate and she is going to the funeral and deal with her inheritance.
Eden's rental car breaks down and she gets a ride with a local land owner, Leith Cameron, who she decides is perfect to base her book's romantic hero upon. Her first night she goes to the wake at the pub for Vicki's father, and later Vicki and her stumble over the body of the town's sheep shearer Gavin Mitchell, murdered—clipped with his own shears. The locals suspect Vicki MacBride and even Eden since they are the strangers in town. Eden can't believe the friendly and sad heiress is a murderer, but can she be of any help when she doesn't even understand the local police investigation techniques?
Eden Elliot is a refreshing 38 year old divorcee who is intelligent, level-headed, and compassionate. Her character is delightful as a woman who is reinventing herself and learning to live life a little. Ami Pederson, Eden's BFF is the bestselling romance author, who even on another continent is checking in and giving input. Vicki MacBride could be as she appears, a genuinely nice person, or a manipulative murderer as the town's people believe. Leith Cameron will satisfy Outlander fans with his masculine good looks and kilts. The gruff and serious Detective Inspector Jamieson is one of the few policemen that would have worked as a jaded romantic interest. Special Constable Sean Stevens provides some comic relief in his bumbling, but well meaning ways.
The highlands, featuring the Whistling Inn B&B in Glenkillen and the MacBride Farm, are more than a setting for the story. Any book set in Scotland has a hefty job to meet reader's expectations, but this novel portrays a strong working knowledge of the land and its unique personality. The plot is a good standard whodunit for a cozy. The pace a few sections that raised interested until the next section that slowed too much, making it feel like a stop-and-start loop at times in the story.
The climax was a great killer reveal that had danger and desperation. The follow up was full of promise for a much longer stay in Scotland for Eden.
This debut novel for a new series packs a lot into it: the atmospheric Scottish Highlands, an American woman getting a new start in a foreign land and making friends while thrown into the middle of murder. The requisite highlander love interest is supplied and is more than eye-candy in his kilt. A great setting, characters you want to spend more time with, and a murder plot that engages all make this a very enjoyable story and great start to a new series.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list
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