A plain-talking Scottish mystery from Quintin Jardine

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Writing Thoughts


Mathew arrives home from years at war to find that everything has changed. Finding his sweetheart married to another man he throws himself into business and amasses wealth and influence – but when that other man is falsely accused of murder he throws everything he has into saving him. He pits his cunning and wealth against the prejudice, privilege and corruption in his own town and in Edinburgh, to varying degrees of success.

This story was told almost shockingly straight. Chronologically, factually, with little mystery or intrigue. Though it had all the elements of a great plot I found myself disappointed in how it was delivered, and not particularly attached to anyone or anything it was presenting me with.

Mathew was too perfect. Almost everything he did turned out well, and he seemed at all times in complete control of himself. Perhaps a character that you’d want to be, but not one that draws you in particularly. And despite his many dramatic circumstances that you would expect to feel deeply about, everything was told in a very matter of fact way and I didn’t feel drawn into very much. Mathew was stoic, which is probably part of the reason, but still. It was as though we were reading a factual biography rather than a novel.

I’d also looked forward to reading this to explore Scotland, which I love, in a historical novel, which I’ve not really done before. I was looking forward to finding out more about Scotland and it’s history.

But sadly though it was set in Edinburgh, which I love, and Carluke, which I don’t know, and even went to North Berwick, which I love, we didn’t get much description or atmosphere. I liked the idea of Edinburgh in a time when you could walk most places, but was disappointed not to find out more. And even the historical elements – we saw the effects of the way of life but didn’t really explore them very well.

So, despite a great premise and a strong plot that I did want to find out about, this book left me disappointed. Sorry, Quintin Jardine.

Thanks Bookbridgr and Headline for the review copy.

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