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Monday 9 April 2018

Bloody Scotland Anthology

Published by Historic Environment Scotland,
7 Sept. 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-84917243-1

Take twelve of Scotland’s historic places, and twelve of her finest crime-writers ... that’s the brilliant idea behind this anthology created in a collaboration between Scotland’s first and biggest crime festival, Bloody Scotland, and Historic Scotland, the custodian of the featured places.

Each short story made me want to go and look again at the well-known places, like Edinburgh Castle, and explore those I’d never heard of, like Stanley Mills.

Lin Anderson opens the collection with a story of a present investigation of a murder in Viking times from the Neolithic Maeshowe in Orkney. Val McDermid has a first-person narrator dealing with love and revenge in the Hermit’s Castle by beautiful Achmelvick bay. Stanley Mills, on the Tay, is the setting for E S Thompson’s grippingly atmospheric tale of a weaving girl in the Victorian mill. Doug Johnstone brings us to the Forth Bridge, and the bleak world of a father who fears losing his daughter. Chris Brookmyre’s DS McLeod finds herself in the middle of a clever terrorist plot when she goes to a medieval day in Bothwell Castle. The theme of abusive husbands is treated in Sanctuary, by Sara Sheridan. It’s set in Kinneil House, Bo’ness, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of ill-treated Lady Alice. Stuart MacBride sets his twist-in-the-tail gothic murders in the Kinnaird Head Lighthouse; after it, Gordon Brown takes us to Crookston Castle, Glasgow, for an intense exploration of the relationship between a man and his father. The medieval Crossraguel Abbey is a place of peace for a downed British pilot in Paris, World War II, but when he returns home, in Louise Welsh’s story Come Friendly Bombs, it’s not so easy for him to leave what he’s seen and done behind. Craig Robertson takes us to the 1966 St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, with a clever take on an old tale. Denise Mina spins a grippingly chilling story in Edinburgh Castle – the sort where you fear what’s going to happen so much that you can hardly bear to read on, yet can’t stop yourself. The collection’s ended by a neat story of double-cross and retribution by Ann Cleeves, set in the Iron Age Mousa Broch, Shetland.

The anthology ends with a map showing where the places are on the ‘Bloody Scotland’ logo, and a page about each building, including, helpfully, the opening times.

A range of excellent stories, each inspired by an interesting place. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Click on the title to read a review of her recent book Death in Shetland Waters

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