I read about this Scotland-based mystery in a recent issue of Library Journal who gave it a starred review. I always look out for books that are well-reviewed yet don’t have the ‘buzz’ that a lot of other books have – the ones that not everyone is talking about. This one is definitely in that category and it is an eerie, well-plotted mystery that I really enjoyed.
Gloria Harkness lives in a rural, isolated old house in southwest Scotland near where her special needs son is in a care home. One night an old friend from her childhood, Stig, pounds on her door, scaring the living daylights out of her. When she recovers from her shock he tells her a convoluted story about how someone he knew from his teen years has reappeared and has intimated that she knows what happened to a boy from their school who died mysteriously. The school they attended just happens to now be the care home where Gloria’s son lives. Never one to turn away from a good puzzle Gloria agrees to help Stig find out the truth about the death. Her search takes her all over the countryside as she tracks down the other children who attended the school and discovers disturbing revelations that have disastrously affected their adult lives. Can she and Stig discover the truth before they, too, are irreparably impacted?
Gloria and Stig are wonderfully down-to-earth characters and the secondary characters are also very colorful. One of my favorite parts of the book was the references to Scottish folklore and things such as devil’s bridges and rocking stones. It added a slightly creepy factor to the mystery which I like.
If you like the earlier, supernatural tinged stories of SJ Bolton The Child Garden would appeal to you. It has all of the elements of not only a very good mystery novel, but also of an effective scary story (though not too scary). It’s a perfect read for this time of year.