The Rough Collier

The Rough Collier by Pat McIntosh. This series set at the end of the 15th century in and around Glascow, Scotland has been the subject of discussion in the Crime Thru Time Yahoo group recently. Some readers have complained that McIntosh’s use of local dialect is overdone and distracting. I admit that one has to concentrate and closely read the dialogue in order to make sense of it all, but it also adds to the atmosphere of the stories. In the fifth episode of the series, attorney Gil Cunningham and his new wife, Alys, work together to solve the mysteries surrounding a body found in the peat and a missing coal mine manager. As is almost always the case in these stories, family secrets and histories going back generations play an important part in the solution and I recommend taking notes along the way in order to keep track of the interrelationships. The mystery trail takes our duo into the mines, churches, taverns and farmhouses all around central Lanarkshire where each resident adds bits of information to the puzzle which eventually reaches its climax.

McIntosh does a good job of character development, both with his husband-and-wife investigators and with the surrounding populace, which, for this story, includes Gil’s mother and several of her estate servants. Each book in the series also brings out new facets of the relationship between Gil, Alys, their families and the other nearby clans, allowing regular readers of the series to make connections between the books. This book pays special attention to the mother-in-law and daughter dynamic and to Michael Douglas, a potential suitor for one of Gil’s sisters. These books do take some effort, but readers are usually rewarded in the end and the series has been getting better as it continues.


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