Allison & Busby,
16 February 2023.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-2937-1 (HB)
Leaving court after losing a case DCI Kelso Strang is dismayed as he watches the guilty man exit the court surrounded by his delighted family. Not so delighted is DC Moore just out of her probationary year whom QC Vincent Dunbar had reduced to tears in the witness box. Skirting the celebratory group outside the court he sees the QC’s attractive assistant and says bitterly ‘nothing was planted on your client’. She smiles brightly and says, ‘You don’t think Vincent Dunbar would stoop so low as to defend an innocent man, do you?’ Having a coffee with Kelso she tells him she is Cat Fleming, an unpaid advocate for the devil master and beggars can’t be choosers and if you get an offer you don’t turn it down.
Sarah Lindsay and Niall Richie in the first lockdown had been stuck in a one-bedroom flat and they were miserable. In the second lockdown with most people working from home they decided it was an opportunity to move out of the city. So they bought a small farm, and with the future of the planet in mind got into organic farming. Initially they were fired with enthusiasm when they bought their first 40 sheep, but it’s not going well.
Sarah had a home decorating consultancy, so to supplement
their income she took a cheap lease on a little shop in the nearby prosperous
fishing port of Tarleton. She was
astonished when she was asked by Doddie Muir of the criminal fraternity for a ‘retainer’
to keep an eye on the shop and protect it from trouble. She laughed, but was not
laughing when the next day her shop front had been vandalised. She spoke to the
quiet lady who ran a small convenience store next door, who said, ‘easier to
On a routine visit from DCI Strang asking if they had problems with any farm machinery being stolen Sarah had told him about the protection, she had to pay to avoid her shop being vandalised. But rather than being pleased that she was taking a stand her neighbours were antagonistic towards her now. Even Niall thought she was wrong.
Although mainly concerned with the theft of Farm machinery following his
chat with Sarah Lindsay, Kelso is concerned that something odd is going on in Tarleton and sends DS Livvy Murray,
who has now passed her
Sergeant’s exam and is feeling pretty chipper, to have a further chat with Sarah. But the shop is closed, so Livvy calls in at the local cop shop and has a chat with DI Matthew Gunn. He seems downhearted and says he can't put his finger on it but something is going on. He shares with Livvy that on his day off he took a walk up to St Abb’s head and witnessed a young woman drive up, jump out of her car and run to the cliff edge and jump.
Then the death of a young farmer sets off a murder investigation. When there is a second death, this one is too close to home and a huge blow to the team. But help for Kelso comes from an unexpected source.
Kelso has a strong team, but I cannot warm to Livvy Murray. I feel she is a loose cannon, if things don’t go her way or Kelso praises someone other than her, she sulks. If Kelso does praise her, she starts thinking they could be friends or even something more. I suspect she could become a stalker, particularly as there could there be romance in the air for Kelso, and it’s unlikely to be with her. Methinks, she is not going to cope with that well.
This story is rich in characters, Rose Moncrief, potter, who has stood out against the criminals in Tarleton and reaped having her house doused with red paint several times, and who befriends Sarah. Ken Blackford, who owns the neighbouring farm, but is he friend or foe?
This is an intricately plotted story that twists and turns. A compelling
read, I couldn’t put down. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett
Aline Templeton grew up in the fishing village of Anstruther, on the east coast of Scotland not far from St Andrews. The memories of beautiful scenery and a close community inspired her to set the Marjory Fleming series in a place very like that – rural Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland. After attending Cambridge University to read English she taught for a few years. She now writes full-time. Her most recent series features DCI Kelso Strang, officer in charge of Police Scotland’s Serious Rural Crime Squad. Old Sins is the fourth book in the series.
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