Title: A Small Death in the Great Glen
Author: A.D. Scott
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In a small town in Scotland in the 1950s, the body of a young boy named Jamie is discovered in the canal. The last two people to have seen him alive are the young daughters of Joanne, a typist at the local newspaper. As the newspaper staff tries to uncover the story behind Jamie’s death, the townspeople point their fingers at a Polish illegal immigrant. Jamie’s murder exposes the darker side of the small town while obscuring the truth about what really happened.
A Small Death in the Great Glen is an atmospheric portrait of post-war Scotland. Scott does an incredible job setting the scene and creating this small town. He perfectly captures the ins and outs of small town life, while replicating the overall atmosphere of Scotland. It’s incredibly well done and worth reading just for that.
The book is populated with eccentric characters, many of whom have something to hide. It seems like everyone is a suspect because there are so few clues to go on from Jamie’s murder. Sometimes it’s hard to keep them straight because there are so many, but Scott does a great job giving each character their own distinctive personality. Joanne was a personal favorite; her resilience and determination grow over the course of the book, and she finds the strength to pull herself out of a very bad situation.
It takes some time for A Small Death in the Great Glen to really get going. Before you are familiar with the characters, the story seems to meander and doesn’t move forward quickly because you are being introduced to so many new people. Scott is just setting the stage, but it takes a long time to happen and it would be easy to lose interest in this book at the beginning. Once it picks up, though, it does become much more intriguing.
I also have a very minor and silly complaint about the book, one that shouldn’t really matter but bothered me as I was reading it: the use of the word “wee”. It seems that every single person in the book decided to describe Jamie as “wee”. I got the point that he was a small, innocent boy, and it just got to be frustrating and tedious after awhile. At one point, I thought I was just overthinking things, so I decided to use the search inside feature to discover how many times the word was actually used: 141 times. Definitely overkill.
A Small Death in the Great Glen was an intriguing and atmospheric mystery that was very well-written. It had its flaws, but overall it was an interesting enough read to where I would consider picking up the sequel that is scheduled to be released in 2011.