Joanne’s Mystery Picks



The beauty of the Isle of Lewis in remote Scotland is often outweighed by the sheer harshness of the weather and the pagan customs of its people.  Fin Macleod, a Detective

Inspector in Edinburgh, knows this only too well as he grew up on this island.  When a murder takes place on Lewis and it shows similarities to one that had taken place in Edinburgh, Fin is sent to investigate.  It’s been many years since he was back “home” and it becomes very clear to Fin that the past has a powerful effect on the present.

In The Blackhouse, the first novel in this trilogy, setting, place, and even weather, take on the proportions of characters as much as the personalities that people this story do.  The brutality of the savage custom of hunting the gugas is magnified ten-fold by the inclemency of the weather as the men of Lewis carry out this long-founded tradition and Fin is forced to remember past events that have long since remained buried.

The Lewis Man has Fin living on the island, having resigned from the police force and set on fixing up his parents’ old croft while trying to repair the many relationships of his past.  When a body, well-preserved and showing signs of multiple stab wounds, is found in a bog, it is first thought to be thousands of years old – until an Elvis tattoo is found on the arm and DNA links it to the father of Fin’s childhood sweetheart, Marsaili Macdonald.  But Tormod Macdonald has always maintained that he was an only child.  Why would he have lied and what answers will they be able to get now, as Tormod is elderly and suffering from dementia?  No one can ever run away from their past – it eventually catches up with everyone.

Fin Macleod is now the head of security on a privately owned estate on the Isle of Lewis.  His job is to track down poachers and bring them to justice.  When he encounters Whistler, an old friend and a poacher, he’s torn between his duty to his employer and his loyalty to a friendship that goes back years.  While in pursuit of Whistler, the two of them are forced to take shelter during a vicious storm.  When they awake in the morning they are faced with a loch that has been drained of its water due to a “bog burst”.  Sitting on the mud of the lake bed is a small plane and inside is the body of their friend and former bandmate, Roddy Mackenzie, who went missing seventeen years prior.  But Roddy’s death is not the result of the crash: he’s been murdered.

In The Chessmen, Fin again is made to face the past as he unravels a tapestry of lies and misdirection.  And as the arc of Fin’s story reaches its end, so many questions are finally answered, allowing Fin to finally put the past behind him and look towards a future of many possibilities.

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

Val McDermid returns with another gritty police procedural that will keep you reading late into the night!

In The Skeleton Road, cold case detective DCI Karen Pirie is called in when skeletal remains are found in the high pinnacle of an abandoned Victorian Gothic building. Forensics ultimately identifies the remains as Mitja Petrovic, a former general of the Croatian Army. Not only must Pirie solve the mystery of his death, but now there is a mystery of international significance: Petrovic was believed to have been responsible for murders of 11 Serbian war criminals…except he’s been dead for 8 years!

While you are waiting for your copy of The Skeleton Road to come in, why not try these suspense-filled mysteries, with complex plots and strong characters.