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Wednesday 13 May 2015

‘The Balmoral Incident’ by Alanna Knight

Published by Allison and Busby.
20 October 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-1721-7

Rose McQuinn is a lady investigator in Edinburgh. Although her first husband, Danny McQuinn, had been the love of her life, she has become reconciled to Danny's death and is very happy with her second husband, Jack Macmerry, and loves Jack's young daughter, Meg, as if she was Rose's own child. Rose's stepbrother, Dr Vincent Laurie, is doctor to King Edward VII, and has procured an invitation for Rose and Meg to stay in a handsome cottage on the Balmoral estate, in company with Vince's wife, Olivia, and their daughter, Faith, and Olivia's old school friend, Muriel Penby Worth. Olivia is delayed and Rose and Meg travel north with Muriel, a domineering and snobbish woman, and Muriel's silent, colourless maid, Lily.

The cottage is commodious and all seems set for a pleasant holiday, all the more exciting for Rose because Muriel invites her to a meeting of the local women's suffrage group to meet her heroines Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. However, Rose cannot deny the feeling of foreboding that warns her all is not well, especially when she sees amongst the ghillies a man who reminds her of her late husband, Danny. This feeling of fear seems to be explained when Vince warns her to keep her deerhound, Thane, out of sight of the royal household. The King is a great lover of handsome dogs and horses and if he expresses a wish to possess an object, a loyal subject is supposed to immediately offer it to him. Thane is more than just a dog; he is a creature with mystical powers, Rose's protector and Meg's adored companion.

Soon after Rose's arrival, two deaths occur. They are dismissed as accidents but Rose is determined to get to the truth of the matter. Despite her stepbrother and husband's appeals that she should not meddle, Rose risks danger and disgrace in order to investigate, and finds herself in great peril.

The Balmoral Incident is the eighth book featuring Rose McQuinn and it says much for the author's skill that it is easy to pick up the storyline and understand the characters' relationships without having read the earlier books in the series. At the same time, enough mystery concerning the back-story remains that I will happily seek out and read earlier books in the series. The historical background is beautifully drawn and the characterisation is strong and vivid, with likeable central characters who remain believable despite the vein of supernatural power that runs through the book. The Balmoral Incident is a compelling read.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Alanna Knight is one of the most popular authors in UK libraries. Named as one of The Times’ “100 Masters of Crime”, she is a leading crime writer with three historical crime series: the Victorian detective Inspector Jeremy Faro, lady investigator Rose McQuinn, and time-traveller Tam Eildor.
She has published 75 works which include romance, thrillers, historical novels and non-fiction. Alanna is an authority on Robert Louis Stevenson and she has written true crime, 'how to write' guides and biographies.
Hon President of Edinburgh Writers' Club, Honorary President and founder member of Scottish Association of Writers, member of Society of Authors and Crime Writers' Association, and Mystery People.  She appears regularly at Edinburgh International Book Festival and many other literary events.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her second book About the Children was published in May 2014.

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