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Wednesday 22 February 2023

‘Blind Eye’ by Aline Templeton

Published by Allison & Busby,
16 February 2023.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-2937-1 (HB)

Running a small business or taking up organic farming in a picturesque Scottish village may seem like an idyllic way of life, but the prettiest locations often have a dark underbelly. That’s where DCI Kelso Strang comes in. He runs the Serious Rural Crimes squad for Police Scotland, and though he’s based in Edinburgh the job takes him far and wide across the country.

Blind Eye is the fifth case in this engaging series, and this time he’s in the Borders, along with his sidekick DS Livvy Murray. Livvy has recently been promoted, and after several black marks on her record because of her maverick tendency, she’s determined not to blot her copybook again this time.

In the area on the trail of stolen farm machinery, Kelso finds that Sarah Lindsay, the female half of a young couple who pursued the farming dream, has been the victim of petty extortion. He persuades her to testify in court against the man who attempted it, but a clever and unscrupulous barrister tears her evidence to shreds. The extortion is the thin end of a dirty wedge, and soon afterwards the woman’s partner is found dead. At first it looks like suicide, but on closer examination Kelso sees that he has been murdered. Clearly something more sinister is afoot in the neighbourhood.

Kelso is moved to wonder how an expensive lawyer became involved with such a minor case, and makes friends with the man’s ‘devil’, a kind of unpaid apprentice. Aline Templeton’s many fans will be glad to find that the devil is Catriona Fleming, daughter of former DCI Marjorie Fleming, protagonist of her own series before she retired. And of course, Big Marge puts in an appearance herself, after Kelso finds himself in a spot of bother when the young detective inspector in charge of the local police station is found dead.

Blind Eye has the kind of complex and multi-layered plot that Aline Templeton’s regular readers will be accustomed to. The criminal roots go far deeper than petty law-breaking on a village scale, and there are times when Kelso Strang wonders if he’ll ever get to the bottom of it. The story is peopled with a wealth of interesting characters: Livvy Murray, of course, and DCS Borthwick, the redoubtable firm-but-fair JB. We see a different side of Marjorie Fleming, but she’s as astute as ever. DI Matt Gunn, the local policeman, is ineffectual and out of his depth, especially with rough diamond PC Thomson.

Most interesting of all are the denizens of the village, both good and bad. I particularly enjoyed Rose Moncrieff, feisty and resilient to the end; she takes pity of Sarah Lindsay, who was never keen on the farm even before she discovered her partner’s body. Doddie Muir is a small-time crook under the thumb of his vengeful wife.  Both Jimmie Gresham, the area’s farming big cheese, and his nephew Rob are all charm on the surface, but what’s underneath? And then there’s Briony, Jimmie’s daughter, who has hidden depths of her own.  

It’s often the plot of a crime novel that hooks you, but it’s the characters who keep you coming back for more. Aline Templeton is adept at both, more so than ever this time round. There’s even a hint of romance for Kelso Strang, though not until he’s solved the murder and performed a nail-biting last-minute rescue. I look forward with eager anticipation to Kelso’s next case.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

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.


Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime

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