Tartan Hooey

Tartan Tragedy formerly published as The wild island, a Jemima Shore mystery by Antonia Fraser is one of the silliest books I've read in a long time. The basic detective story is decent enough - it was the first time in many reads that I didn't guess the murderer prior to the denouement, so it deserves some praise for that, but the story surrounding the murder is pure hokum.

A Scottish retreat turns into a murderous nightmare as alleged descendants of Bonnie Prince Charlie attempt to grab their ancestral home, feuding amongst themselves as they do so. There's also a full cast of Scottish peasantry, who just about manage to restrain themselves from tugging their forelocks. It is a truly awful book with some terrible dialogue, and just about every cliche you can think of thrown in.

All this, and even the dogs are poorly characterised - a crucial point in the novel is mistaking one dog for another - as they're of the opposite sex, and belong to a short coated breed, I wouldn't have thought this was too difficult for anyone with an elementary knowledge of anatomy!

Having damned the novel, I must also admit that it is compulsively readable but it's nowhere near the standard of Fraser's other Jemima Shore mysteries. It's worth reading for the laughter value - it's probably the only novel to feature death by labrador - but not much else.


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