Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Small Death in the Great Glen - A.D. Scott

Book: A Small Death in the Great Glen
Author: A.D. Scott
Paperback: 393 pages
Publisher: Atria/Simon and Schuster
Published date: August 2010

Last night I had a bit of insomnia, woke up, and finished reading my second book for the R.I.P. V Challenge.  I requested a review copy of A.D. Scott's debut novel A Small Death in the Great Glen through Shelf Awareness.  I thought the cover was absolutely gorgeous and since it's a murder mystery that takes place in Scotland, I thought it might be a little bit like Tana French's novels.  I wasn't really similar but it is still a beautifully written book.

Here's the story:

Small Scottish town in the Highlands in 1950's: a small boy is found dead/drowned in a canal lock one morning.  First thought to be an accident, it comes out that he was murdered.  Although there is not much evidence against him, a Polish man is accused of the accident.  He jumped ship and was trying to escape going back to his wrecked and war-torn homeland.  The only ones in town really trying to uncover what really happened is the small local newspaper staff.

That's the basic gist of the novel but it was so much more than that.  The 1950's small town mentality is really apparent in the story.  Joanne, a part-time writer for the newspaper, mother and abused wife can't leave her husband because of the shame and the fear.  The town's obvious prejudice and outright accusation of any "others" becomes apparent as they accuse the Polish man, shun his Polish friend, and outcast the town's local Italian newcomers.  It's also apparent how bad most of the social systems are: orphanages, elderly people's homes, and prisons.

I think I enjoyed this book though because of the characters and am so glad that there is going to be at least one sequel to the novel which, according A.D. Scott's website is called Tales from the Highland Gazette and will be coming out next year.  Joanne's plight and her care of her two daughter who were the last people to see the small boy.  The cast of the newspaper: Don, McAllister, and Rob - such great characters.  There's a snippet into McAllister's life where his bachelor abode has piles of books everywhere.  When Don comes over to his house, here's a quote:

"...grateful that Don hadn't asked if he had read all the books - McAllister had to drop an acquaintance for asking such an inane question..."

Isn't that awesome.  I totally get that.  There's also a part I loved where at a party they get introduced to American Rock n' Roll and it was just a fun part of the story. 

I also loved the Scottish lore, history, and just atmosphere the book has pared with beautiful writing.  I will admit that were quite a lot of words and references that I did not understand but it made me read the book more slowly than I might have which I actually liked. 

Definitely check this book out.  It's a perfect read for the R.I.P. V Challenge - murder, mystery, and the Scottish Highlands in the winter.

Let me know if you read it and I will link your review here.

R.I.P. V Challenge Pick


  1. I really like that cover! I still haven't read Tana French but I agree, the synopsis does sound a bit like one of her books.

  2. This looks good. I really like the cover, too, and I have had a thing with Scotland this year, so might want to give this one a go at some point to carry on with that!