MacLean, Shona - 'The Redemption of Alexander Seaton'
On a dark and stormy night in 1626 Alexander Seaton, failed cleric and reluctant teacher in Banff, sees a man in distress while he's on the way to get drunk. Seaton ignores him, which proves to be a mistake as in the morning the man is found dead in Seaton's schoolhouse. He's been murdered, and the most likely suspect is one of Seaton's very few friends. The Banff authorities have decided who they need to hang, and it's up to Seaton to expose the real murderer.
This is a well written start to a series. It's set at an interesting time, a quarter of a century after the Great Armada fell apart all over coasts of the British Isles (the dead man is found to have the sort of maps that would be useful to an invading fleet) and Europe is eight years into the 30 Years War which means that there are religious tensions too.
Characterisation is strong, and the language sounds right for the period. There's a clear but twisty story fairly directly told. The story gets slightly mired in flashback in a couple of places, but it's hard to see how else we'd find out exactly why Alexander Seaton needs redemption in the first place.
The two-page glossary at the back is useful for anyone unsure about who'd win in a clash between a provost and a baillie.I look forward to finding out what Alexander Seaton does after his having been redeemed.
Read another review of THE REDEMPTION OF ALEXANDER SEATON.
Rik Shepherd, England