Ms. Gaskin, who can knock off Gothic novels with one swipe of a gillyflower, probably wrote this in a Highland fortnight, but as always her arrangement of familiar characters and predicaments is competent and soothing. Young Kirsty, after her father's death in China and her brother's mysterious demise in Scotland, returns to the ancestral home and grandfather Angus -- gruff and solitary. Among the household and neighbors: a severe housekeeper, a garrulous housemaid, a neighboring whiskey laird (Angus' whiskey operation features quality rather than quantity), the Campbells -- Gavin and his pretty wife Margaret -- and strong, silent Cullin, the housekeeper's son, who trains falcons. Soon enough the Grim Reaper begins to reduce the company with accelerated abandon. Margaret dies from a fall off a horse, grandfather and Cullin go after a terrible fire, and mysteries abound until it is discovered who did in Margaret and William. But before the death of Cullin, his real reason for not encouraging Kirsty's love is revealed via disclosures in the family Bible. Inter-minable talk -- but the mysteries, with a tidy love knot at the end, will not disappoint Ms. Gaskin's steady following.