The Blue Hackle
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star, Dec 8 2010, $25.95
Retired Scottish detective inspector Alasdair Cameron and his American fiancée travel reporter Jean Fairburn look forward to their New Years wedding ceremony at Dunasheen Estate owned by his childhood friend Fergus MacDonald. On the Isle of Skye, the Dunasheen castle is run down although Fergie is trying desperately to save his heritage. His hope relies on historic artifacts found on the estate and inside the castle, and opening up the edifice as a sort of B&B for paying guests to attend a Scottish New Year gala.
However, another guest Australian Greg MacLeod is stabbed to death. Jean finds the murder weapon, an antique dirk taken from Fergie's artifact display. Several suspects emerge starting with Colin Urquhart who loves Fergie's daughter Diana and American antique dealer Scott Krum as each has motive and opportunity. However, Jean Krum’s daughter Dakota has other issues besides a homicide as the ghost of Fergie’s ancestor Seonaid “The Green Lady” MacDonald keeps visiting them.
The latest Jean Fairbairn-Alasdair Cameron mystery (see The Charm Stone and The Burning Glass) takes an odd seemingly paranormal spin in wintry Scotland on the eve of their marriage. Between the corpse, the cops and the uncooperative guests, fans will wonder whether the lead couple will exchange wedding vows at this time. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Australian is murdered, but is a long dead chatelaine haunting the castle or is the howls at night just the wind played up as an attraction by their host. Readers will appreciate the Fairburn-Cameron collaboration as the past and present converge in murder.