Scottish Island Fiction
Scottish islands – or really any islands – can provide the ideal setting for a murder/mystery/thriller novel, the remoteness and inaccessibility adding excitement and uncertainty to the overall suspense. A brilliant storm can disconnect island inhabitants from the outside world by severing communication and prohibiting sea and air travel. The local law enforcement officials may be dealing with a crisis, but sorry, reinforcements can’t reach you. And, of course, they’re trapped on an island with the villain. It is really sort of ideal in a world where just about everybody has a cell phone and are therefore “connected” at all times. In most contemporary suspense novels there is usually a point in the climax where the protagonist is trying to elude some evil doer – they look at their phone and – “oh no, no bars” or “damn, I forgot to charge it”, – but someday we’ll have self-charging phones and network service everywhere. What are writers going to do then? Islands! Yeah, just kidding.
NONE BUT THE DEAD is set on the island of Sanday – a real island in the Scottish Orkney Islands. This novel gives mention to many historical landmarks that actually exist on this island. I have read many books where the author has chosen to invent an island to provide a backdrop for evil, murder, and mayhem but this one is quite authentic.
This is the twelve book in the “Rhona Macleod forensic scientist” series and I’ll admit right now that this is the first entry I have read. Most of the series is set in Glasgow but the team is sent to Sanday when a construction project uncovers bones. The owner of the project is converting an old schoolhouse into a home and he also finds strange fabric flowers in the attic. The local historian takes one look at one of the flowers and becomes extremely distressed. Vandalism at the dig site makes it apparent that someone doesn’t want the authorities digging into the past. The police are already overwhelmed, but then a young girl goes missing and a huge storm hits the island.
The Orkney Islands (like the Shetland Islands) are north of Scotland and have a greater Scandinavian influence than the Hebrides. The location made Sanday a good location for a military outpost during World War ll: the remains of the outpost figure in the story.
This novel has all the elements that make Scottish Island mysteries so effective and I was not disappointed. The characters were fine but I wasn’t enthralled enough to be tempted by previous volumes. There was also one coincidence in this novel that I found a little farfetched, but it is an excellent mystery/thriller especially for fans of Scottish Island books.
NONE BUT THE DEAD by Lin Anderson (2016), MacMillan, 419 pages