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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Book Reviews

Short reviews of (primarily) fiction with Scottish backgrounds
Submitted by Margaret (Peggy) Baker to Family Tree
July 5, 2002

M.C. Beaton: Death of a Celebrity (St. Martin’s Minotaur, $23.95. ISBN 0-89296-676-9) Mystery.

Hamish MacBeth, Lochdubh’s dour constable, returns in a sprightly tale of sleuthing. The celebrity if Crystal French, newly-appointed star of a BBC program replacing a staid Gaelic language program on local events. Crystal was a researcher before, and she uses those skills to dig up faults and dirt to air on the show. Rating soar, but at the expense of people’s feelings. When she dies, there is a dearth of mourners.

So many possible suspects from the people she skewered to the Gaelic program she replaced. Still, the show must go on. Crystal’s replacement is also good at researching dirt, and she, too, dies. Who in the small village has a secret awful enough to kill to keep hidden? Hamish must find out. His strengths, like those of Jeeves, lie in knowing his community in depth and human nature in general.

Paul Johnston: Water of Death (St. Martin’s Minotaur, $24.95, ISBN 0-312-27311-8). Science Fiction/futuristic mystery.

In 2024 A.D global warming has so altered Scotland’s coast that tropical diseases now appear in northern climes. Civilization has deteriorated into isolated city-states, run by dictatorships are varying niceties. Summer is unbearable hot and called The Big Heat.

Since most pleasures are banned or rationed, the masses are kept out of mischief with weekly lotteries. Top prize is never having to work again. But lottery winners are turning up dead. The instrument of death is poisoned whiskey–truly dastardly to any Scot worthy of a gram of a single malt.

Quintillian Dalrymple, private investigator, is called in to solve this darkly fascinating case.

John Marsden: Somerled and the Emergence of Gaelic Scotland (Tuckwell Press, ISBN 1-86232-101-9). Biography.

Somerled is an historical figure and thus some actual records of his life exist. Marsden uses these to present a very readable biograpy of a remarkable man who molded his age to his ambition, and left a huge legacy. Seamas MacThomas in The Royal Clans of Scotland credits six clans with direct descent from Somerled. Even the Royal Stewart house has a link (through an heiress).

Best place to find this British publication is at a vender at a Games. Many independent bookstores can order it, and it is well worth the trouble of acquisition.


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