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.
Keith Moray’s Torquil McKinnon series is a pleasant and atmospheric set of “cozy” police procedurals that play out on the fictional island of West Uist in the Scottish Hebrides. I’ve been following them with enjoyment, and Death in Transit was an enjoyable addition.
This time around, the remote island is once again the center
of international attention, due to an astronomical event, “the conjunction of
Venus and Mercury and the transit of Mercury,” clearly visible from there. The
phenomenon attracts an odd assortment of outsiders – media people, a noted
astronomer, and a motley group of New Agers with astrological pretentions. But
the discovery of a murdered body floating in the harbor dampens the excitement,
and a further murder raises apprehensions. Pressured, as always, by his
unsympathetic off-island superior, Inspector Torquil McKinnon will have to
uncover old secrets, resentments, and rivalries before the true killer is
There was nothing very novel about Death in Transit, which put the likeable regular cast through its usual paces among fondly described characters and locations. But it was fun, like all the books in the series. Recommended, with no important reservations for language or content that I can recall.
It’s nearly pointless to do a review of yet another Torquil McKinnon mystery by Keith Moray. Torquil, as you may recall, is police inspector on the fictional Hebridean island of West Uist. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and a bagpiper, and the nephew of the local priest. He is supported by some likeable constables, and the local newspaper man (off and on).
Flotsam & Jetsam is a rather complicated story, involving the drowning of a young woman, the murder of a famous entomologist, abused cats and dogs, professional sports gambling, a popular television show along the lines of “Antiques Roadshow,” drug smuggling, burglaries, and several other themes. Also a couple members of the cast of characters fall in love above their leagues, and enjoy success – because these are essentially happy stories.
Oh yes – Torquil acquires a pet. You can’t get more cozy than that.
Good fun; nothing much to caution you about. Recommended for light reading.
We’ve come to volume three in Keith Moray’s Torquil McKinnon semi-cozy police procedural series, set on the fictional island of West Uist in the Hebrides. I find the books unchallenging, but entertaining. Inspector McKinnon, motorcycle rider and champion piper, has had tragedies in his life, but overall he’s cheerful and optimistic, as are his colleagues. That makes a nice change in the mystery genre.
In Murder Solstice, the laird’s manor on West Uist, which has gone through three hands in as many books, is now home to a New Age cult group. The group anticipates some form of spiritual enlightenment in connection with being present at the Hoolish Stones, a local henge, during the spring solstice. They’ve attracted the attention of national television, but also of a local historian who is livid at their leader’s theories about the stones. Also suspicion is rising that some local farmers are running a dog-fighting operation.
Meanwhile, the police force has been lumbered with a new officer, sent by a resentful and devious chief superintendant on the mainland. But she’s young and attractive, and Torquil possesses certain skills that may help win her over to his side.
Murder Solstice won’t change your life, but it’s an interesting and engaging mystery novel. I enjoyed it. Cautions for mild sexual content and mature themes.
Inspector Torquil McKinnon is on holiday at the beginning of Deathly Wind, the second in the Torquil McKinnon mystery series, set on the fictional Hebrides island of West Uist. Constable Ewan McPhee, his friend and subordinate, is supposed to be watching the store while he’s gone. But Ewan goes missing. People frequently go missing on this island, and it usually means they’ve drowned. That leaves Constable Megan Munro to police the place alone. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be impossible, as crime is low in these communities. But just now there’s rising unrest, as a new Laird has inherited the big estate, and is implementing a plan to dispossess long-time crofters and put up wind turbines on their property. Also, people are suddenly getting killed. Quite a few of them.
Torquil does return to take things in hand, but he’s not sure he can handle the pressure either – as his superior on the mainland keeps reminding him over the phone. But with his knowledge of the community, and the help of his uncle Lachlan, the old priest, he starts uncovering the secrets of people he thought he knew, and unraveling a vicious revenge scheme.
Keith Moray’s Torquil McKinnon series is not at the top of my must-read list – the writing is not particularly distinguished (I thought the plot of this one a little far-fletched). But the books are entertaining and readable, the characters are appealing, and no shots are taken at Christianity. I don’t recall much bad language either. There were some sexual situations. I’ll continue with the series. Recommended.