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by Aline Templeton
Hodder & Stoughton, November 2010
416 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 0340976977

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lisa Stewart was accused of murdering a baby she was looking after but although she was acquitted, her past continues to haunt her, even when she apparently escapes to a remote part of Scotland. She is forced out of the cottage she is renting by the collapse of a section of cliff and when the police later examine the scene, a body is found in one of the other cottages, seemingly the victim of a murder. At the same time, a local landowner, Gillis Crozier, is about to stage a music festival and crowds are starting to converge on the area, despite the worsening weather conditions.

While all this is going on, DI Marjorie Fleming is facing her own problems. She is trying to rebuild her son's trust, weakened when he felt she had put her job before her family, and now her own past makes an unwelcome reappearance as well, threatening to cause another rift, but this time with her husband.

This is a complex story of past relationships coming back to trouble the present. Templeton peoples the book with a vast array of characters, both inside and outside the police force, but they are all drawn with sufficient skill to prevent them merging into one another and I found myself increasingly caught up in their lives and histories as the plot proceed to thicken at a quite surprising rate. Fleming is a sympathetic main character, a career detective juggling the competing and sometimes irreconcilable claims of work and family. This book is a good addition to the series, building on the events from past books that have shaped Fleming's current difficulties without relying too heavily on prior knowledge to flesh her and her colleagues out, so it is still possible to come late to the series, as I did, without feeling overwhelmed by too much baggage.

The book conveys a very strong sense of place and the rugged Scottish shoreline comes over as very much a character in its own right. There were times when I was almost in danger of getting lost in the various twists and turns of a complex plot, but there was always enough by way of explanation to keep me anchored in the story and when everything finally unraveled I was left with a feeling of a job well done on the part of the author.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, May 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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