Malice in the Highlands

Graham Thomas, Author Fawcett Books $6.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8041-1657-2
Malice in the Highlands introduces both Erskine Powell, the likable chief superintendent from New Scotland Yard, and the debut effort by Thomas, a Canadian biologist. Powell's much-anticipated Highland fishing holiday is interrupted by the disappearance of Charles Murray, the new owner of Castle Glyn Estate. What follows is a wonderfully atmospheric read, in which a well-rounded cast of characters with a plethora of motives combines to create an exciting and--too rare these days--smartly logical murder mystery. As if this wasn't enough, Thomas is a truly exceptional prose stylist, from his use of the local vernacular to the vivid imagery that consistently reinforce characters and plot--e.g., Thomas describes a minor character as ""[p]inched and slightly astringent in appearance, with wire-rimmed spectacles and sartorial tastes tending toward the funereal,"" or a corpse in the River Spey with ""its bloated face horribly lacerated and cast a ghastly gray."" It's a nearly perfect combination of language, characterization, description and, of course, whodunit. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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