Well of the Dead by Clive Allan
In April 2010, the brutal murders of distillery owner, Duncan Fraser, and his wife Laura, shock the small rural community of Glenruthven in the Scottish Highlands. The ensuing police investigation unearths an ancient clan feud… and a mystery dating back to 1746 and the Battle of Culloden.
Detective Inspector Neil Strachan, who we first met in Clive’s first novel, The Drumbeater, once again finds himself delving into the past, as he and his partner, Sergeant Holly Anderson, go head to head with a ruthless and violent criminal, apparently obsessed with his Jacobite ancestry. Strachan also faces problems of his own. His long-term partner is acting strangely, causing him to suspect that she is having an affair. His determination to bring the Frasers’ killer to justice, and to uncover the truth behind his erring partner’s behaviour, take him on a journey to a place he never wanted to be. It is a place where his personal and professional priorities become blurred; a place where both his judgement and reputation are on the line.
Excellent the pace and setting of the book really engaged me.
The Well of the Dead is not the usual dysfunctional, urban police procedural, but one in which the story is played out amongst the rugged beauty of Scotland’s wild landscapes.
Detective Inspector Neil Strachan has concerns at home when his long-term partner starts acting strangely, but he is forced to put his personal life aside when the body of Laura Fraser is discover in her Scottish castle and her husband, Duncan, is missing. The couple have inherited a whiskey business and the family castle. Duncan’s body is soon found near Culloden at the Well of the Dead. Both bodies have been mutilated with strange carvings that hint to a time long past.
This is the second book featuring DI Neil Strachan. With his sidekick Sergeant Holly Anderson they try to unravel who the ruthless and violent criminals are, and why they are apparently obsessed with Jacobite ancestry. From chapters set in 1746 the reader begins to learn the history for revenge. The couple have been targeted because of events that took place during the battle of Culloden over 250 years earlier. Merciless killers are looking for hidden treasure and will stop at nothing to find it.
When this 600 page book arrived for review I hoped to goodness that it was going to be good otherwise getting through it was going to be arduous. I needn’t have worried. The pace of the novel felt realistic yet kept me turning the pages as the story twisted and turned with emerging details as it wound its way towards a dramatic conclusion. The writing felt cinematic as I was transported to Scotland with its bleak scenery and varying dialects. Neil Strachan is a likeable protagonist, a smart and dedicated detective who works as part of a team and goes off piste when things get personal. A thoroughly enjoyable read.