As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Tinder Press,
26 July 2018. ISBN: 978 1 4722 3478 0 (HB)
In 1857 a young woman, Audrey Hart, comes to the
island of Skye in the Inner Hebrides off the north-west coast of Scotland. She
has a job, unusual at that time for a young woman from a prosperous middle-class
background; her father, a successful London doctor, had been deeply
disapproving and had made it clear that his daughter should either make a
suitable marriage or confine herself to charitable work while her stepmother
reinforced her husband’s wishes firmly. But Audrey had never fitted into the
social class in which she found herself and longed to return to the part of the
world from which her own mother, a Highland Scot, had come. From her mother
Audrey had learned many legends of the Gaelic-speaking crofters and even a
smattering of Gaelic and had joined the Association of Folklorists and it is in
answer to an advertisement in the Association’s journal for an assistant to a
lady collector of folk tales on the island of Skye who could speak both English
and Gaelic that Audrey has come to Skye without her father’s consent. When
Audrey gets to Skye she discovers that the lady collector is the elderly Miss
Buchanan who is crippled and consequently cannot get out herself to collect the
stories from the crofting folk and she is counting on Audrey to do so. But
times have changed since Audrey as a child had gone with her mother to collect
folk tales; in the Highland Clearances whole communities were summarily evicted
from their homes to make way for new trends in farming, such as sheep farming,
or even letting the land for shooting. Speaking the Gaelic was sternly
discouraged, and the old tales were deeply disapproved of by the
Calvinist-inclined clergy. So Audrey is at first identified by the crofters and
finds it difficult to establish any sort of rapport with the poverty-stricken crofters.
But she is supported by Miss Buchanan’s nephew Alec who is also interested in
folklore, and by one of the maids, Mairi, and gradually begins her collection.
But these stories are not the sugar-sweet confections that were being published
for children by writers such as Andrew Lang; they are much harsher and clearly
have their origin in pre-Christian mythology. One constant them is that the
fairy folk, the Sluach, take the souls of those who have died so that when the
young girl Isbeal McKinnon is found drowned by Audrey, the minister will not
allow her burial in the churchyard. And then Mairi also disappears. The
crofters believe that they and a number of other girls who have disappeared
have indeed been taken by the Sluach, but is that really what has happened? Or
is there some more mundane, although equally horrifying, explanation? Have they
been abducted and then perhaps murdered?
This a fascinating
and vivid story in which the wretched poverty of the crofters’ contrasts with
the rich inheritance of their legends while few if any of the landowners who
exercise such power over them have any concern for their fate. Recommended.
studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a human rights and
criminal justice solicitor. She now tries to combine law with writing and child
wrangling, to varying degrees of success.She is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels have
been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime. Anna's influences
include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood. Her
debut novel, The Unseeing, is based
on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a
murder in London in 1837. Her second novel, The
Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairy
tales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.