Murder at Midnight (Challinor)

Murder at Midnight (Rex Graves Mystery #7) - C.S. Challinor

Going to visit an older relative and looking for something we could read and discuss together, I sought out (1) a mystery novel; (2) set in Scotland; (3) in large print. This book ticked all the boxes. I wish I could add that it is a splendid book; alas, it is merely a mediocre entry in the huge field of mediocre cosy mysteries. The author appears to have a history fairly similar to mine - a transplant to the Western hemisphere after a childhood in Scotland. Perhaps directly as a result, a great deal of the book - even being the 7th in a series - comes across as explanations of Scotland and the Scots for ignorant Americans. I'm not sure, however, that it was really necessary to inform us that the Highland Fling is a dance as well as a bad pun. Maybe. It's not so much the explanations I object to, as that they could have been far more elegantly woven into the dialogue or narrative. In much the same way, it would, I think, have been better simply to ignore the fact that the educated lowland Scots detective and his various associates would be talking with a Scots accent, instead of inserting random "oot" and "aboot" spellings in the midst of otherwise standard English dialogue. It was jarring, to say the least. And there were the all-too-common copy-editing errors (Burn's as the possessive of Burns? really?)

 

Anyway, I had no particular problems with the locked-room murder plot itself. The killing methods were exotic and improbable, but that's always a bit of fun, in the Ngaio Marsh vein. The characters were not particularly vivid - I have trouble recalling much about them at the distance of a couple of months, other than that there were hidden identities and a bit of a family secret linked to supposed hidden treasure. The Scotland in this book is very definitely the Scotland of the romantic American imagination!

 

I'm not likely to come back to the Rex Graves series, I'm afraid.