The bookseller of Inverness by S.G. Maclean

Iain MacGillivray survived the Battle of Culloden six years ago, when the Duke of Cumberland -nicknamed the Butcher- mercilessly crushed the Jacobites during the 1746 uprising. His face was badly injured and he’s still traumatised by the death of his cousin and best friend Lachlan. Iain now keeps his head down and runs a bookshop in Inverness. One day, a man comes into the shop rummaging through the books of the ‘old fox’ – Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat. The next morning he finds the same man murdered in the shop, with the symbol of the Jacobites stabbed under the knife.

This is my first book by Maclean and I was particularly curious about it because it’s set after Culloden. We meet Iain who owns a bookshop with some regular customers, but suddenly there’s an unknown man looking for Lord Lovat’s books. That man is later murdered and it seems that there’s a link with the Jacobites, especially when Iain’s father – who was supposed dead – turns up on his doorstep.

Iain’s family has been fighting for Bonnie Prince Charlie for years and was also involved in the 1715 Rebellion, during which Iain’s grandfather was executed in London. His grandmother is still a great fighter for the cause, but after Culloden Iain’s enthusiasm for the Jacobite cause had cooled down.

The book contains quite a lot of characters and it was not easy to follow in the beginning. Besides the murder, there’s a lot to tell about what happened six years ago and in the previous rebellions. This makes it a bit complex at times, luckily I already knew the history a bit.

Because of this, the mystery is not so much about finding a murderer, but rather about some old secrets that come up again after all those years. I guessed quite early on who the murderer was and by the end I had more or less figured out why.

In terms of style and plot, it was not quite my thing. There’s also the side perspective of Lady Rose, but I did not really understand the added value of her story. Maclean did a good job exploring the time period, it’s just not a story that grabbed me. I also don’t know if the author is planning a sequel, but I’m not inclined to read it at the moment.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is book 8/20 of ‘20 books of summer‘.

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