Archive for the ‘Edinburgh’ Category

The Thirteenth Coffin


Author: Nigel McCrery
Published: 31 December 2015
Reviewed: 10 February 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review

3.5 out of 5 Stars


Stretching along the shelf, standing upright, were twelve wooden coffins. Nine were closed, and three open . . . with little dolls standing inside them . . .

It was supposed to be the most special day of her life – until the unthinkable happened. Leslie Petersen is shot dead on her wedding day. With the bride’s killer vanished without a trace, the investigation into the murder grinds to a halt before it’s even begun. But then, the decomposing body of an unidentified homeless man is found in an old Cold War bunker, and DCI Mark Lapslie makes a bizarre discovery. Hidden near the body is a shrine full of miniature wooden coffins. Each coffin contains a little doll, all dressed differently. One of the dolls is dressed as a bride – could this be a link to Leslie’s murder? And if so, who do the other dolls represent? 

Can Lapslie and his team stop the countdown of the ‘dying dolls’ before it’s too late?

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Skeleton Blues


Author: Paul Johnston
Published: 31st December 2015
Reviewed: 07 January 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Severn House Publishers in return for an honest review.

  5 out of 5 stars  


Ex-cop Quint Dalrymple discovers there is something very rotten in the independent city-state of Edinburgh in this near-future dystopian thriller.

Edinburgh, spring 2034. The weather’s balmy, there’s a referendum on whether to join a reconstituted Scotland coming up – and a tourist is found strangled. As usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the Council of City Guardians’ dirty work.

For the first time in his career, Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case. An explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body – and the prime suspect is nowhere to be found. Can Quint and his sidekick, Guard commander Davie, put a stop to the killings before the city erupts into open violence? Are the leaders of other Scottish states planning to take over Edinburgh, or is the source of unrest much closer to home? Quint must race to pull the threads together before he becomes one of the numerous skeletons on display …

In 2034 the independent city-state of Edinburgh is still as apocalyptic as it was when I first encountered Quint Dalrymple in The Body Politic back in the 2020s. The City Guardians have relaxed the regime somewhat, pardoned various miscreants and allow the citizens more freedoms than were ever offered in the previous years, but some things haven’t changed.  The City is still a hotspot for tourists who still take priority over the ordinary Citizens.  Conditions for the Citizens haven’t really improved greatly and Quint Dalrymple is still sceptical about the Guardians and distrusts most people in power.

When a precious tourist is found strangled in Citizen accommodation Dalrymple is brought in to investigate and track down the missing Citizen lives there.  It’s made quite clear to him that he must find the missing woman and not abuse the power that the Council of Guardians are bestowing upon him.  
Whilst Dalrymple is working on this case there is an uprising brewing, a referendum is imminent, the Council of Guardians want the city-state to join the reconstituted Scotland and voting has been made mandatory.  They expect all Citizens to vote yes, but not all of them want to, some are willing to fight for what they believe would be a better leadership and quality of life.  

For fans of the Dalrymple series, rest assured the pairing of Quint and Davie (aka Hume 253) makes a return.  The dynamic duo are as usual on good form, the satire of their exchanges makes for good reading as well as moments to chuckle out loud.  Despite the passing of time, there is no real change to Quint Dalrymple, he’s still cynical, he’s still a Blues fan and he’s still harbouring a grudge against Billy Geddes and the Guardians.  

Johnston’s writing is as brilliant as ever, references to Classics such as Plato and Homer give away subtle hints to both the intelligence of the author as well as his studies (ancient and modern Greek at university).  There is skill in writing a futuristic setting that can also incorporate “old world” attributes, the utopian Glasgow that is hinted at (which features in The Blood Tree) contrasted with the wild borders areas emphasises the richly descriptive quality of the writing.  
The characters are good, Dalrymple is the perfect protagonist, disillusioned with the regime, sceptical, argumentative and not afraid to speak his mind.  Davie (Hume 253) as well as being a loyal Auxiliary and Guard Commander, is Quint’s best friend, shows a caring side but also can be relied on for the necessary muscle or brute force.  Other interesting characters include Hector Dalrymple, an ex Guardian and Quint’s father, and Billy Geddes, a former Auxiliary who Quint regarded as colleague and friend. 

The pace of the book is good, the storyline is gripping and so sweeps you along with it, if you can manage to put it down between chapters I suspect you would  be able to carry on without much issue at all.  

Despite this being a continuation of the series of books with Dalrymple, this story really could be read as a stand alone book.  Granted, having read the other books in the series the city-state of Edinburgh and its Council will make more sense, but this certainly will not detract from the enjoyment.

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to fans of Johnston’s previous works, especially fans of the Dalrymple series, as well as fans of Fiction and Mystery genres.  But be aware, this isn’t just a typical run on the mill mystery story, this is an intelligently written, highly addictive book!

I would like to thank Severn House Publishers for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published in Hardback on 31st December 2015, but I hope other formats will be available soon, a copy can be purchased here Skeleton Blues (UK Hardback)

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Bright Stars

Author : Sophie Duffy
Published: 01 October 2015
Reviewed: 30 September 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Legend Press in return for an honest review via NetGalley.


4 out of 5 stars

Four students are involved in a tragedy that rips their friendship apart. What happens when they are reunited 25 years later?

Cameron Spark’s life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie. Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music, and late night protests, Cameron feels as though he’s finally living; until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever. Christie’s letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt, and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?

In 1986 Cameron Spark went to university in Lancaster, a shy and quiet young Scottish lad that managed to form three of the most unbelievable friendships that change his life forever, shape what becomes of him and his friends.
Cameron first meets Tommo who is the antithesis of Cameron; he is English, he is loud, he dresses in drainpipe jeans, wears fashionable shoes, drinks alcohol and wants to be a rock star.  Then there is Bex, the love of Cameron’s life, an animal rights activist, feminist and can do no wrong as far as Cameron is concerned.  Christie, the final of the four, is a Canadian, who comes to Lancaster to study marketing before she takes the reins of the family wine business back home.
Being the typical students, they go to lectures, get drunk, go to gigs and generally have a good time being young and free from parents watching over them.  Or that is until that fateful night that changes everyone’s lives, the accident changes Cameron’s life in more ways that he can imagine, friendships are abandoned, and the mistakes that are made that night will haunt each of them for the next 25 years.
Switch to current day, Cameron, now in his 40s has split from his wife, moving back into his childhood home with his widower father (and Myrtle the dog), suspended from his job (pending investigation of an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh) and writing a journal as part of his therapy from a counsellor as a means to coping better.  Then the letter arrives from Christie, inviting them to a reunion of sorts, what can she possibly want Cameron there for?  Can he face her after what happened all those years ago?  Have Tommo and Bex been invited too? 

There is so much I could say about this story, but I really don’t want to give away too much and spoil the book for others. 

The writing style of this novel is good, the jumping back and forth between 1986 and present time is done really well, it gives so much information about Cameron as a young man at university and the group of friends he has, and explains a lot of why things have turned out as they have. 
For me, none of the characters are particularly likeable, they are all at one point or another needing taken aside, shaken and told to “buck up” – but this is very realistic in many ways, how many times do we do things, say things, act in ways that make us annoying to others, naive or just plain stupid?  For someone to make characters like that it’s very good writing in my opinion, it’s easy to write loveable characters, but to create ones that are difficult to like seems a lot harder (maybe I’m wrong?).  
There is a fine line between doing things for the right reason and doing things for the wrong reason, and this novel explore that well. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Chick Lit, it would also make a good holiday read.

I would like to thank Legend Press for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book will be published on 1st October 2015 .  A copy can be purchased here  Bright Stars (Kindle UK Version).

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