A staff’s attempts to bring the Highland Gazette up to modern standards are derailed by the death of one of their own.
Glaswegian editor McAllister is shocked when the dead body of Mrs. Smart, his capable office manager, is found near a local church. He’s even more shocked when Don McLeod, his deputy editor, goes on a binge upon hearing the news and then is arrested for her murder. With two of his staff gone, McAllister, hard-pressed to turn out a paper up to his standards, welcomes some part-time help from Neil Stewart. Neil is a Canadian college professor, born in Scotland, who’s been looking for answers about his birth ever since his mother died and left him a note saying that she was not his real mother. Reporter Joanne Ross falls for the charming Canadian, to the dismay of McAllister, who’s in love with her. Mrs. Smart’s abusive spouse is furious at the news that he gets only the house the couple has been living in; her will leaves her estate in Sutherland to Don and all her jewelry to Jenny McPhee, doyenne of a family of tinkers. In order to find other suspects, Don’s friends must dig into a difficult past that, like an onion, reveals layer upon layer of secrets and lies Don and others want to keep concealed.
The third installment in this fine character-driven series, set in the Highlands of 1957 (A Double Death on the Black Isle, 2011, etc.), expertly evokes an area struggling with a painful past as it seeks a better future.