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Publisher's Summary

Banff in the 1620s. A man staggering down the street. He appears drunk, but he's been poisoned. The victim, an apothecary's apprentice, is discovered dead in Alexander Seaton's house, a fallen minister whose life lies in tatters after his affair with the Laird's daughter is discovered and he is cast out of the kirk in disgrace.When his friend is accused of the apprentice's murder, Alexander sets out to solve the crime and clear his friend's name.
©2009 Shona MacLean; (P)2009 Oakhill Publishing Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"Pacy and literate,this is an accomplished and thought-provoking debut." (The Guardian)
"For those who like their historical novels densely packed with fact,this will appeal." (Scotland on Sunday)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Carolina on 08-09-10

Very interesting

As a big fan of this type of mystery story, I was delighted with this book. At about 1 hour from the end of the book I still had absolutely no idea of who had done it. That can't be said about many books.
The thing that I did not like about it was the very strong scottish accent that Crawford Logan had for some charaters, as well as some arcaic scottish vocabulary that Shona MacLean used, to the point that I really did not understand what was being said amd missed many dialogs.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Alison on 03-26-13

great listen

I thought the book was very interesting! Good mystery and it definitely kept me guessing, which is pretty rare for me. I see a lot of other reviews didn't like the narrator but I thought he was excellent, I didn't mind the accent or the Scottish terms. I would definitely recommend this and I will be buying the sequels.

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Customer Reviews

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By Rachel on 05-16-09

Great book, well read

This is the first review I've written, of the most surprising audio book I've yet read. Surprising in many ways: in the quality of both the writing and the reading, both previously unknown to me; in the layer on layer of complexity in the story; and in the way that this is handled so beautifully by author and reader.

Set in 17th century Scotland, the story illustrates a contrast between narrow religious bigotry and a wide, stimulating world of new ideas and discoveries. The story none the less portrays religion as pervasive, and as a part of the texture of everyday life in this time and place, and the varieties of forms of belief are displayed in a way which made them both interesting and credible to this non-religious reader.

So far, this review makes the book sound solemn and overly serious. Not at all. It's a cracking story, multi-layered, with twists and turns which always spring directly from the plot, so they develop naturally from the story lines. Tolerance jostles intolerance, science confronts belief in witchcraft, and the outcomes are uncertain. This is not a book of easy answers, but a novel of interesting questions, and great fun.

The main character is himself complicated, a man deeply affected by a humiliating episode in his recent past, and by a turn of events in his life which has left him deeply confused and unsure of himself. At times pessimistic, but always stubbornly moving forwards none-the-less, Alexander Seaton travels uncertainly towards his redemption. The mystery at the heart of the story is progressively uncovered, as the supporting cast of characters are developed, and the parts they play, or have played in the commission and in the uncovering of crime are gradually revealed.

Great stuff. Highly recommended.

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50 of 51 people found this review helpful


By Elizabeth Davies on 11-09-09

Fascinating and enjoyable

This was a rare treat - I was totally engrossed in this story; it had everything: rounded characters, historical detail and a gripping story. I was so sad when it ended - I envy antone who is about to begin listening to this book.

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18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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