The close knit farmers of Black Isle over time have created a culture of suspicion about "outsiders," those not from there. They are also at odds with the fishermen, the villagers, and the regions reigning manorial family. At the bottom of this social hierarchy are the "Travelers," or Tinkers, folk who have lived on Black Isle for many generations and yet are regarded in the same way gypsies (Roma) are elsewhere in Europe. When two murders occur on the Isle on the same day, two of the Travelers are accused and Joanne Ross, a new reporter on the Gazette, is called upon to seek out the story behind these deaths.
Joannes work as a reporter in order to support her two children is at odds with the prevailing social norms. Her rush into a bad marriage after becoming pregnant has put her at the mercy of a husband who routinely beats her. Although now separated from him, divorce, considered a scandal, seems out of the question, with even absentee fathers most often getting custody of the children. Aware that "she was a quarter-step ahead or behind the beat of her community" Joanne soldiers on, slowly overcoming her natural shyness to become an effective reporter and crime solver while working in a male field.
A.D. Scotts writing is lovely. Having grown up in the Highland where she holidayed on the Black Isle, her insights into the locale, rituals, and socioeconomic structures of mid 1950s rural Highlands seem spot on.
A Conversation with A.D. Scott about her works plus a Book Club list of questions is included.
One of six Highland Gazette mysteries.