4 stars · Mystery

Scotch Rising (Markinch Series, Volume 1)


By SJ Garland


Edinburgh 1707. The English supporters in the Scottish parliament have narrowly signed the Act of Union. The controversial paper bringing England and Scotland together into one Great Britain will not be uncontested. From the Acts inception it appears doomed to carry the blood of Scots and Englishman alike. Esmond Clyde-Dalton returns to London a broken man after his wife’s death. He only seeks a dishonorable discharge. His superior Colonel Manner’s, known for his extensive spy network, has other plans. Sent to the highlands of Scotland to become an excise collector on Scotch. Esmond quickly becomes embroiled in solving the murders of two Scots men. As his investigation continues, Esmond soon realises life in Markinch is not all it seems. Esmond’s peaceful retirement turns to a fight to save not only his life, but also the lives of friends he has made in the highlands.


My review:

Scotch Rising is a historical mystery with a tiny bit of romance thrown in. The hero is world-weary. Having lost his wife and unborn child, he is without purpose in life. He feels obliged to live to honor his wife, but wallows quite “happily” in self-pity. He is send for a last assignment, before quitting the army, to Scotland. There, he stumbles into a murder mystery and by solving it, he slowly regains the will to live. The book itself was well written and I got to experience a time and location I didn’t know much about and I do very much like learning new things. My only complaint is that I felt the beginning was too long, I nearly gave up a few times reading the book before he reached Scotland. I’m happy I didn’t because the book is definitely worth reading to the end. I don’t think the whole London episode is required, everything happening there is explained later on anyway. Overall, it is a great historical novel and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.


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