The Scottish Mystery

Last spring, I finally got to visit Scotland, Land of the Tartan and black slugs, which I dubbed the MacSlug. Part of that trip included a 73 mile trek on The Great Glen Way, one of the many long-distance paths in Britain. Most of the walk was through or alongside beautiful scenery including placid lochs, rolling pastures filled with cute little lambs and a few shaggy Highland cows, and forests (although I was shocked to see some pretty darn ugly clear-cuts as well). Shortly after coming home, a mystery passed my desk entitled A Small Death in the Great Glen.  I knew I had to read it, and although I couldn't figure out if the fictional village was based on one that I had passed through, I was pleased to revisit the landscape if only in literature. The small death is that of a young boy who has been found in a canal (the Caledonian Canal that along which I had walked miles?). Turns out that he had been murdered and dumped in the water. Who would do such a thing? Several young girls might know, but they're not telling. Employees of the local newspaper are the amateur detectives in this debut novel and they're a pretty interesting bunch. I'm looking forward to the second in this series. I just polished off another new debut mystery from Scotland, this time set in 1860s Edinburgh. In The Unbelievers, our middle-aged detective, Inspector Allardyce, is trying to figure out who has bumped off the Duke of Dornach. What was, at first, a missing persons case, turns into a murder investigation when the Duke is found shot. We travel with Allardyce through the dirty underbelly of Victorian Edinburgh society and politics as we visit the Duke's questionable haunts and hope that we get to the murderer before he or she strikes again. If you're still hankering for Scotland after these two, read Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, set in the Shetland Islands. But don't blame me if you feel the need for a shot of whiskey after all this death!