Scottish Bookshelf – Latest Releases From September

Enjoy our pick of September book releases. First for fact and fiction…


This is a brief selection of reviews taken from our September issue.



Dark Hunter
FJ Watson

Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1317 is the northernmost remaining English outpost.

Consisting of disaffected English knights and Scots who have fled from Robert the Bruce, the garrison lives in perpetual fear. Despite a truce, the Black Douglas continues to raid the surrounding area.

Benedict Russell is a unlikely scholarly squire to Sir Edmund Darel, who has arrived to support the garrison.
While opening accounts with the chamberlain, Benedict notices and reports some financial misdeeds, drawing the attention of the garrison’s management to his investigative ability.

Consequently, when the murdered body of Alice Rydale is discovered, Benedict is asked to find out who killed her. In the course of his enquiries, in conjunction with Alice’s sister Lucy, the case becomes more complicated as it appears that there is a traitor in Berwick.

The investigations become increasingly dangerous, with the growing threat from the Scots and the severe lack of support from King Edward II adding to the general confusion.

FJ Watson is a Scottish historian, writer and television presenter. As is to be expected from an academic author of a number of books on Scottish history, the historical background in this novel is impeccable.

The book, however, is far from being a historical treatise – it is very much a medieval detective story, with a love interest thrown in.

The characters are believable, and each takes his or her place in the unforgiving feudal system.

I enjoyed the descriptions of Berwick, and found myself turning to the internet for further information – whatever did we
do before Google?

My only real criticism of the book is that it is narrated in the present tense – for some reason
I always find this irritating.

Definitely worth a read – and there is an unexpected twist at the end of the book, which left me wondering if there might be
a sequel in the near future.

Graham Drew


Illuminated By Water
Malachy Tallack

Growing up on Shetland and currently living in Stirlingshire, Malachy Tallack has long been obsessed by fishing. In this beautifully written book he explores the joys of angling – from the lochs of Scotland to the lakes of New Zealand.


In Search Of One
Last Song
Patrick Galbraith
Harper Collins

Scottish author Patrick Galbraith travels the length and breadth of Britain in search of our fast-disappearing birds and those working hard to save them. His debut book is a beautiful blend of nature and travel writing.


Industry Of Magic
& Light
David Keenan
Orion publishing co

Industry Of Magic & Light is a love letter to the counterculture of the 1960s and a requiem for its passing. Set in Airdrie in the ’60s and ’70s, the book focuses on a group of hippies running their own psychedelic light show.


For more from our bookshelf >>

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