West Uist, the fictional Hebrides island that provides the setting for Keith Moray’s Torquil McKinnon mysteries, suffers from Midsommer Syndrome. It’s a remote and bucolic place, filled with a population divided among the inoffensive and the eccentric, and yet it keeps throwing up murders. The latest involves the age-old tradition of illegal whisky distillation on the island.
As Deadly Still begins, Police Sergeant Morag Driscoll is off for a morning jog when she discovers a local teenager wandering blind in the heather. She and two friends had been celebrating completing their final tests with peatreek (the Scottish equivalent of moonshine) in an abandoned World War II bunker. Now she can’t see, one of her friends is unresponsive, and the other has disappeared entirely.
At about the same time, a local businessman is found dead. It looks like the result of a drunken fall, but laboratory analysis will show that he’s been imbibing the bad peatreek as well.
Except that the level of methyl alcohol in this stuff is way higher than is probable in ordinary home distilling. Someone has a grudge and an agenda, and Inspector Torquil McKinnon (who already had his hands full with his wedding plans) will need to stop that person before anyone else dies. And what happened to the missing girl?
I always come back to the Torquil McKinnon books with pleasure. I like the setting, I like the characters. I don’t rank Deadly Still as the best in the series – I had trouble keeping the characters straight in this one, but maybe that’s just because I’m getting old.
Recommended, like the whole series.