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The Rough Collier
Gil Cunningham series #5

by Pat McIntosh

      Newlywed lawyer Gil Cunningham has taken a break from his usual beat in Glasgow. He and his new wife Alys are staying with his mother, the formidable Lady Egidia, so she can get to know her daughter-in-law. But even in rural Lanarkshire the bodies soon start to appear. Some peat cutters have just found a body in the peat, and over keen steward David Fleming has identified the body, and the witch who killed him. But is it really mine overseer Thomas Murray, and if not, who is it? The mine belongs to the domineering Arbella, who presides over a houseful of women including the would-be "witch" and the missing manís wife.

This is one of my favorite histmyst series, evoking late 15th century Scotland with its study of the language, lifestyle, beliefs and industries of first Glasgow and now the country beyond. Gil and Alys make a great couple of sleuths and now a loving married couple, in contrast to the less idyllic marriages of other people in the story. This is a tortuous case, which had me guessing. And I particularly enjoyed the well-researched description of the mine, the salt panning industry and the peat cutting. Having a fascinated Alys taken around and asking questions is a good way of finding out about the way these tasks were carried out. Here too is a portrait of a female menage, all forceful characters in their own right and their place in society, as well as the sometimes difficult but authentic dialect. Maybe I should give up asking for a glossary, but at least this book (the fifth in the series) provides the reader with a map.

The Book

Constable (Constable and Robinson)
27 March 2008
1845294726 / 9781845294724
Historical Mystery / 1493, Lanarkshire, Scotland
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008