Could Farnaby Island be the Avalon of Arthurian legend?
Farnaby lies off the coast of Northumberland, near the better-known holy isle of Lindisfarne. First Elaine Lauder and now her daughter Maggie, inhabitants of Farnaby, have tried to prove that it is Avalon. Maggie has announced the opening of a tomb she’s convinced will cause a sensation. It does but not the one she had imagined. The tomb contains the body of a man who, although long dead, is certainly not a contemporary of Arthur’s. Maggie thinks that it may be her father, since she’s never been convinced that Elaine’s husband, Wat, is her real father. George Grinsell, the rude and obnoxious inspector sent to investigate, already thinks Maggie is a murderer even though she was cleared of killing a lover years ago. Grinsell quickly alienates just about everyone on the small island, and there’s a long list of suspects when he’s attacked and later dies. Elaine, who suffers from dementia and often wanders the island, may hold the key to the mystery, but it’s not clear that she knows she does or can share her knowledge. Fortunately, American historian Jean Fairbairn and her husband, Alasdair Cameron, a retired Scottish police detective who is now head of Edinburgh's Protect and Survive, are on hand, she to write a story for Great Scot, both of them to enjoy the music at the Gallowglass music school. Alasdair is asked to supervise the local constable and Grinsell’s assistant until the fog abates enough to send in a new officer. Jean and Alasdair (The Charm Stone, 2009, etc.) approach the problem from different viewpoints but arrive at the same conclusion.
The historical detail slows the progress of the story, but it’s still full of enjoyable twists.