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The Merchantís Mark
A Gil Cunningham Murder Mystery #3

by Pat McIntosh

      Young notary Gil Cunningham is looking forward to opening a barrel with his old friend Augie Morison, a local merchant. This barrel wonít contain liquor though, but a parcel of the latest printed books from Holland. Trouble is, when they open it up it contains a human head, pickled in brine and a package of coins and treasure! Poor Augie is whisked off to jail and Gil has to discover whom the head and treasure belonged to, and who put them there before Augieís two small girls are orphaned. He also has to think about the fate of his youngest sister Kate, who has been lame since a childhood ailment and who has just failed to be cured by St Mungo...

This is the third book in this engaging series, and well done to the author for having the originality to pick an unused venue for her books. Her engaging cast of characters are becoming like old friends (particularly capable Kate and her equally accomplished father Pierre), and there is a highly complex and labyrinthine plot in here to unravel. There is plenty of wry Scots humor to enjoy and late mediaeval Glasgow comes to tangible life. Perhaps the star turn is the real Scots history, which manages to shine through in all its convoluted, larger-than-life glory - I donít think I can ever get tired reading about it but it takes a good writer to bring it to such vibrant life nonetheless. I would still like a glossary in the next book for all us non-Glaswegians, although most words can be guessed (not quite all though, which is the problem). This time there is a gray area appearing between the black and white, so there isnít quite such a contrast between saintly heroes and hissable villains, which is all to the good. Sit back and savor this one - it isnít a fast read as there is so much packed in to just 300 pages. Highly recommended.

The Book

Constable (Constable & Robinson)
29 June 2006
Historical Crime [1492, Glasgow]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006