On a dark, damp Sunday evening, a man taking a shortcut home sees a hand reaching out in supplication from a bundle of sacks. In an instant he knows something terrifying has happened.
In the Highlands in the late 1950s, much of the local newspaper's success was due to Mrs. Smart, the no-nonsense office manager who kept everything and everyone in line. Her murder leaves her colleagues in shock and the Highland Gazette office in chaos. Joanne Ross, a budding reporter and shamefully separated mother, assumes Mrs. Smart's duties, but an intriguing stranger provides a distraction not only from the job and the investigation but from everything Joanne believes in.
Beneath the Abbey Wall brilliantly evokes a place still torn between the safety of the past and the uncertainty of the future, when rock 'n' roll and television invaded homes, and a change in attitudes still came slowly for many. As the staff of the Highland Gazette probes the crime, they uncover secrets deeply rooted in the past, and their friend's murder becomes the perfect fodder for strife and division in the town and between her colleagues.
After twenty-five years as a journalist, McAllister was used to late nights, so when the doorbell rang at twenty past eleven he was awake, reading, and on his third single-malt whisky of the evening. As he put down his book and rose to answer the door, he felt uneasy. Who would be awake in this Scottish Highland town this late on the Sabbath?
Police Constable Ann McPherson stood on the doorstep. "Mr. McAllister. We've found a woman. She's dead. One of my colleagues thinks she worksworkedat the Gazette . . . "
WPC McPherson saw a flash of dread cross McAllister's face. "It's not Joanne."
Ann McPherson knew McAllister and liked the editor of the Highland Gazette; liked his wit, his intellect, and secretly admired his tall dark brooding elegance. She had also guessed at his fascination with Joanne Ross, a reporter on the Gazette, a woman fifteen years younger than his forty-five, a woman whose smile and changeable-as-the-ocean-blue-green eyes and ...
A. D. Scott weaves charged emotion into Beneath the Abbey Wall, a well-paced novel that bridges the gap between British “gentleman detective” mysteries – which include characters such as Hercule Poirot, Inspector Morse, and Adam Dagliesh, among others, and which often entail ingenious executions of a crime – and hardboiled police procedurals that suggest bleak views of humanity.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (813 words).
One of the plot details in Beneath the Abbey Wall involves a family of Travellers whose histories twine with the murder victim's Jimmy McPhee, and his mother Jenny McPhee, a highly regarded storyteller.
In Scotland, the Traveller population is referred to by the government as Scottish Gypsies/Travellers (distinct from Irish Travellers), though the names members use to refer to themselves varies by region. Travellers is more common in the Highlands, while Gypsies is used in the Lowlands and Border areas, with some regarding Gypsies as derogatory, preferring Romas instead. (For more on the Roma people in Britain, view the Beyond the Book for An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear.) Scotland also includes New Travellers, ...
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Newcomers usually don't stay long in remove Lockdubh, Scotland, but artist Effie Garrard settles in and apart from being a dreamer and a little odd, seems to be fine. Then she's found dead, an apparent suicide, but police constable Hamish Macbeth feels in his bones it is murder - but is he too distracted by his own personal affairs to see ...
From acclaimed author and television dramatist Peter May comes the first book in the Lewis Trilogy - a riveting mystery series set on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life.
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