Release Date: Feb 1, 2020
Series: Liss MacCrimmon
Liss MacCrimmon runs the family’s shop, the Scottish Emporium in Moosetookalook, Maine. She has been put in charge of the town’s March Madness Mud Season sale and she won’t have the help of her Aunt Margaret who is out of the country. Liss is watching Margaret’s two Scottie dogs and they make a gruesome discovery in Liss and her husband Dan’s backyard. There is a dead body of a man not known to Dan and Liss in their yard. Liss gets another shock when the identity of the victim is revealed and her father, Mac, becomes the prime suspect of the hard-nosed state police officer in charge of the case. In spite of not wanting to be involved in another murder investigation, Liss can’t stand by and watch her father imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit so she begins looking for clues that will lead her and the police to the truth.
This is the thirteenth book in this series and the fifth I have read. What got me interested in this series was that Liss was a former professional Scottish dancer and the information about Scottish customs and items sold in her store. Unfortunately, neither Liss’s dancing background nor anything to do with the Scotland plays a part in the book. That is what made the earlier books in this series so unique and it’s been missing in the last couple of books. Liss and her husband are still likable characters and the author does make the most of the Maine setting in this book both in providing an interesting background and in a central part of the storyline. I love Liss and Dan’s relationship although it isn’t central to this book. Liss’s mother Vi is not one of my favorite characters, but I enjoyed the scenes when she and Liss go to Florida as part of the investigation. Unfortunately, Vi is just not a pleasant person and quickly spoils any of the ground she makes in the relationship with her daughter.
The case itself starts out very intriguing. Without spoiling anything, the identification of the victim is a shock to Liss and her family and many other residents of their small town because it’s someone who had been presumed dead many years ago. Liss’s investigation into the murder and into the life of this person caught my interest right away. Liss makes some missteps, but I found the investigation very interesting. They way the case mixes in with an issue the town is facing regarding rights to their water supply is well-done. Less successful is the mystery surrounding the “twice-dead” victim. When all the details come out, the solution is so improbable and incompletely explained, it left me very disappointed. The premise hooked me and the build-up kept me going, but the ultimate payoff isn’t there. This isn’t my favorite of Dunnett’s books, but I am still a fan of her writing and this series. I hope future books get back to basics and have more of a focus on Liss and her husband’s loving relationship and all things Scottish.