An excellent debut mystery with an atmospheric Edinburgh setting!
It was the setting that first attracted me to this debut mystery. It has been on my NetGalley TBR for some time, and I’m so happy that I finally got around to reading it!
Shona and Sarah were best friends. Two lovely young girls growing up in the Portobello suburb of Edinburgh. Then, one evening in 1976, Shona was raped and murdered… A local man is convicted of the crime.
Skip ahead 30+ years.
Sarah is married to a local television celebrity, Rory Dunbar. She is the mother to twins, Lottie and Nick, now young adults living off on their own. She is still haunted by the murder of her best friend these many years later.
Tom McIver, Shona’s brother, is back in Scotland to spread his mother’s ashes on Eriskay, the island where she was born – and, coincidentally, to attend his school reunion. His family left Scotland after his sister’s murder – when he was just sixteen. They emigrated to South Africa. He has never married, and has worked at various jobs in his adult life.
At the reunion he meets up with his childhood friend Rory, and Rory’s lovely wife Sarah. Rory had always been handsome and charming and he hadn’t changed in that regard. His celebrity status makes him even more attractive to the ladies and he takes every advantage.
Sarah, who had secretly nursed a crush on Tom in her teenage years, finds that she is still drawn to him. The attraction is mutual, and Tom is appalled at the way his old friend treats his wife.
Sarah has been playing ‘happy families’ for many years. She hosts a weekly Sunday supper for her family. Rory, her mother, and her twins. During the week she is lonely and vulnerable with only her cat Sultan for company. Rory pays her little attention and the twins are busy with their own lives. Her mother, a bitter pill, is not one of her favourite people.
The philandering Rory is irredeemable and his many woman eventually make themselves known to Sarah.
Tom, realizing that Scotland will always be the place where he feels at home, makes plans to relocate back to Edinburgh – much to Sarah’s delight.
It comes to light that the man who served all those years in prison for raping and murdering Shona McIver was convicted erroneously. Modern DNA has proven that he could NOT have been guilty! Tragic to be sure, but that means that Shona’s killer was never found and could still be among them!
Subsequently, the police reopen the case of Shona’s murder and utilize all of the scientific advances that are available to further their inquiries.
The inquiries and their consequent revelations cause Sarah’s life to implode in a ghastly manner.
This is more than a cold case mystery, it is a character study into the lives of people living with buried trauma. The characters were well drawn, the plot believable and entertaining. The ending was satisfying and tied up all loose ends.
I had no expectations for this novel, as the author was unknown to me and I had heard little about it before starting the book. This hidden gem was a lovely surprise and I look forward to further novels by this talented author.
Many thanks to Matador/Troubador Publishing Ltd. who provided me with a digital copy of this novel via NetGalley in consideration of this review.
Though Alison Baillie was born in Yorkshire and brought up in Ilkley in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, she has always felt Scottish. Her parents were both Scottish and she studied English at the University of St Andrews and afterwards taught English at several High Schools in the Edinburgh area. She has also taught English as a Foreign Language in Switzerland, where she now lives. She loves reading crime fiction, travelling, walking in the mountains, and being with her family and friends. “Sewing the shadows together” is her debut novel.