BookBrowse Reviews Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Beneath the Abbey Wall

by A. D. Scott

Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott X
Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Nov 2012, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Murder hits close to home in a small Scottish town...

Beneath the Abbey Wall is A.D. Scott's third mystery in a series that features employees of the Highland Gazette, a fictional newspaper set in the Scottish Highlands during the 1950s. Following A Small Death in the Great Glen (2010) and A Double Death on the Black Isle (2011), which hinged on crimes the staff reported, this latest installment hits closer to home. Mrs. Smart (neé Joyce Mackenzie), the inimitable office manager, is murdered, and Don McLeod, the deputy editor and Joyce's lover, is arrested despite seemingly little evidence. Editor-in-chief McAllister and Rob McLean, a twenty-two-year old reporter and the son of the local solicitor, rally to vindicate their colleague with the help of Jimmy McPhee, a local Traveller (see Beyond the Book). Together the men uncover a long list of secrets: about Joyce's family; the reason behind her marriage to Sergeant Major Smart, a wheelchair-bound veteran with an infamous temper; Joyce's ties to Jimmy's mother and "legendary storyteller" Jenny McPhee; the possibility of bigamy between some of the characters; and a child who was mistakenly abducted.

Scott weaves charged emotion into a well-paced novel that bridges the gap between British "gentleman detective" mysteries, in which characters such as Hercule Poirot, Inspector Morse, and Adam Dagliesh solve ingenious crimes – and hardboiled police procedurals that suggest a bleaker view of humanity. By focusing on relatable characters who are affected by the murder rather than on the official investigation, Scott allows everyday life to inform the plot, and welcomes readers who prefer emphasis on story over more grisly, forensic analysis. Subplots on the romance between Joanne Ross (a reporter) and Neil Stewart (a scholar aiding the newspaper) as well as McAllister's unexpressed feelings toward Joanne particularly resound, not only for the respite they offer the characters from stress created by their co-worker's arrest, but for the ways in which Scott negotiates themes of doubt, obsession, and love. Murder and romance cleverly dovetail upon the discovery of Neil Stewart's connection to Joyce Mackenzie.

Few surprises emerge from the plot though. The suspects are staples of the genre, and are signaled clearly; and one particularly pivotal event, while not implausible, comes across as a little too tidy. Still, the central question to the crime, "Who are your people?" remains provocative enough to keep readers wondering how Scott resolves family problems. Her talent for imbuing mid-century men and women with courage and the conviction to set wrongs right make this a workplace mystery to relish, and a fascinating examination of long-held resentment.

Reviewed by Karen Rigby

This review is from the January 9, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Scottish Gypsies/Travellers

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.