This is the first review I've written, of the most surprising audio book I've yet read. Surprising in many ways: in the quality of both the writing a..Show More »nd the reading, both previously unknown to me; in the layer on layer of complexity in the story; and in the way that this is handled so beautifully by author and reader.
Set in 17th century Scotland, the story illustrates a contrast between narrow religious bigotry and a wide, stimulating world of new ideas and discoveries. The story none the less portrays religion as pervasive, and as a part of the texture of everyday life in this time and place, and the varieties of forms of belief are displayed in a way which made them both interesting and credible to this non-religious reader.
So far, this review makes the book sound solemn and overly serious. Not at all. It's a cracking story, multi-layered, with twists and turns which always spring directly from the plot, so they develop naturally from the story lines. Tolerance jostles intolerance, science confronts belief in witchcraft, and the outcomes are uncertain. This is not a book of easy answers, but a novel of interesting questions, and great fun.
The main character is himself complicated, a man deeply affected by a humiliating episode in his recent past, and by a turn of events in his life which has left him deeply confused and unsure of himself. At times pessimistic, but always stubbornly moving forwards none-the-less, Alexander Seaton travels uncertainly towards his redemption. The mystery at the heart of the story is progressively uncovered, as the supporting cast of characters are developed, and the parts they play, or have played in the commission and in the uncovering of crime are gradually revealed.
Second book of a trilogy about Alexander Seaton. In this book Alexander goes to Ulster to help his mother's family. His grandmother fears the thre..Show More »at of a curse, caused by her own marriage and then her daughters' marriages which seem a betrayal of the Irish. A vicious woman who is tied up in her Irish roots, she will do anything to promote the cause. This period with English Planters brought over to colonise Ulster is a little known period, and explains much of the later hostilities in Ireland. It takes place almost 400 years ago, during the Stuart period. It is sad that some memories should last so long. Listening to the introduction I thought that it did not sound particularly interesting, but I misjudged it.
The Alexander Seaton books seem to divide people - you either like them or you don't. At times they can seem quite slow moving, which is strange as ac..Show More »tually quite a lot happens in them. In this one, Seaton is asked to investigate a murder to ensure the good name of his college does not come into disrepute. More incidents follow, while Alexander has his usual personal crises to face. He is lucky in his friends. Every now and then Shona MacLean gets us rather bogged down in the Rosicruceans, but her descriptions of a period notorious in Scottish history for its witchhunts is quite fascinating. I have read this series in order and think it might be difficult to tackle them as standalone novels, as the characters develop throughout, but the little explanations are possibly enough to help. I have heard them all as audiobooks, and the change of narrator took a bit of getting used to, but Crawford Logan and David Monteith bring out slightly different character traits