A body in a peat bog, accusations of witchcraft and missing men add up to Middle Aged murder.
Lawyer Gil Cunningham and his wife Alys, visiting his mother’s estate near Glasgow, become embroiled in a local priest’s charge of witchcraft. When the body of a red-haired man is found preserved in a peat bog, the priest accuses Beattie Lithgo, an herbalist and member of the family that runs the local colliery, of murder by witchcraft. Gil and Alys realize that although the man was indeed murdered, it happened a very long time ago, and the body is not that of Thomas Murray, who has been missing from the colliery for a month. Murray ran the mine, but the real control lies in the iron fist of the beautiful Arbella, head of a household of talented and mysterious women that includes Beattie, Phemie, Bel and Thomas’s wife Joanna. In their different ways, Gil and Alys investigate. At length Gil discovers Thomas dead in the bed of his male lover, and Alys slowly unravels intricate family relationships. Apparently Thomas is just the last in a string of murder victims all tied to the colliery. Only the uncovering of deeply buried secrets reveals the truth.
McIntosh’s fifth pairing of medieval detectives Gil and Alys (The Merchant’s Mark, 2006, etc.) is another hearty meal stuffed with fascinating period tidbits and a satisfying mystery.