Twelve accomplished Scottish authors each contribute a crime story that takes place in an iconic Scottish setting, such as any one of dozens of castles and archaeological sites. No duds in this collection – though some were more memorable (and in some cases unsettling) than others – and all serve to illustrate the point to be careful when you piss off certain folks in Scotland.
2. House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon
A celebrated Israeli author uncovers surprising family secrets during a visit to Amsterdam. This was a poignant but not cloying story of the individual and community effects of the Holocaust in Amsterdam, told seamlessly in two timelines.
3. Iced in Paradise by Naomi Hirahara
A young woman comes home from college to help her struggling family in Kauai, and a young man associated with her father’s business is found dead under suspicious circumstances. In part this is a typical cozy mystery, with elements of romance and lots of food while an amateur sleuth investigates a crime; however, there are also more serious issues of family loyalty, alcoholism, and Hawaiian land rights.
4. The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien
The middle book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which Sam and Frodo take the Ring closer to Mordor while the rest of the fellowship engages in various battles. This is part of the continuing Facebook group reread, and what I find interesting is how I keep coming across scenes and details that I hadn’t noticed or had long forgotten.
5. The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
After the death of her mother, a woman learns that she’s inherited half of the house in the Scottish Highlands where she lived as a young girl until her father (who inherited the other half) disappeared; only problem is she can’t sell the house with him still missing, and the house seems not to want her there. Interesting spooky story about a small community, a strange house, and some neighbors with questionable intentions.
6. The Searcher by Tana French
A retired Chicago police detective buys a house in a quiet Irish county but gets caught up in a mystery when a neighbor child insists that he help find the child’s missing brother. Another moody and fascinating slow burn from an author who seems to specialize in the slow burn.
7. Carrie by Stephen Kind
We all know the story of a telekinetic young woman who’s being raised by her fundamentalist mother and what happens when members of the community want to play a nasty joke on her. This is a bit creepier and grosser (and sillier) than the movie; I read it as a “genre stretcher” for a reading challenge and confirmed that horror really isn’t my jam.
8. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
Book 9 of the Armand Gamache series takes place around Christmas and features a missing woman, a possible act of domestic terrorism, and a welcome resolution to an annoying story arc. This installment has gotten the series back on track, and I look forward to continuing in the new year.