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A Kind of Grief: A Novel (The Highland…

A Kind of Grief: A Novel (The Highland Gazette Mystery Series)

by A. D. Scott

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For some reasons, I just couldn't get into this story or even care that much for the characters. It wasn't that I had any problems getting into this book because I hadn't read any previous book in the Joanne Ross series, it was just that the mystery suicide of the alleged witch Alice Ramsay just never really got that interesting to read about. I mean it was quite weird that a woman in the late 1950s could be accused of witchcraft and even that it would go to trial. That should be interesting to read about, and it was in the beginning, but at the same time a bit slow to really get into.

And, around half way through the book the story just started to really drag on, I felt that not much happened and I had to force myself to read, taking a break now and then do something else and force myself to continue. The worse part of the book was Calum and his mother. He's a young journalist and a mamma's boy and in the beginning was it kind of funny reading about his problems with her always calling, checking up on him and being a pain in the ass. But towards the end was it just too much and every mention of her was just plain annoying.

On the plus side, I never felt lost when it came to the characters and their past history, the ending was good and I found the mentions of the Cambridge spies in the book interesting. Would I read more in this series, I'm not sure. I didn't find Joanne Ross and the rest of the character interesting enough that I would want to read more about them. Unless someone could guaranty that any other book in this series is better than this one.

Thanks to Atria and Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Dec 10, 2017 |
This is the sixth book in a somewhat cozy murder mystery series set in the late 1950’s in the Scottish Highlands. The recurring characters operate a small newspaper, the Highland Gazette. Sometimes, in order to get the bottom of a story, they end up investigating and solving a crime as well.

In this book, former reporter Joanne Ross has married her Highland Gazette editor John McAllister. Joanne, now 32, is mostly fully recovered from the brain injury incurred at the hands of a psychopath who, in a previous book, sought to take her life. But things are going well now, and Joanne is thinking about writing a book. McAllister still worries excessively about Joanne though, as do her two daughters Annie and Jean.

Joanne reads an article about a woman accused of witchcraft, and thinks it might provide just the subject matter she was seeking upon which to base a book, so she contacts the newspaper reporter who covered the story. Calum Mackenzie proves to be not such a great reporter, relying on his gossipy mother for most of his information, but he does direct Joanne to the woman about whom the story was written, Alice Ramsay.

Alice turns out not only to be a very intriguing woman who is an accomplished artist as well as an herbalist, but she soon turns up dead as well, apparently having committed suicide. Joanne can’t believe it was a suicide, and decides to investigate. Before long, all the members of the Highland Gazette are involved in what turns out to be a much bigger story than they originally thought.

Discussion: Several themes run through the stories in Scott’s books; one is the position of women in the 1950’s, combined with a consistent presentation of their competence and courage. Another is “the splendor of the lochs and glens and mountains” of the Scottish Highlands. Even when the days are “dreich” (defined as a combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather), as they often are, Joanne feels a deep love for her atmospheric land. A third theme is McAllister’s metamorphosis, from a dissatisfied small-town newspaper editor to a deeply happy family man. But it is the story of Joanne - curious, bright, brave, and constantly evolving from a battered wife with sorely lacking self-esteem to a woman growing every day in confidence and skill, that dominates the books.

Evaluation: I value this series more for the portrayal of life in the 1950’s Scottish Highlands than for the crime stories per se. In fact, to me, this series is much more of an unfolding character study than a mystery series. I have come to care about the characters, and look forward to seeing what befalls them. These books stand out as well-made portraits of a fascinating time and place, in which an endearing and very human group of people struggle to achieve self-fulfillment and happiness. ( )
  nbmars | Oct 30, 2015 |
I've been a fan of A.D. Scott's series since the very first book, A Small Death in the Great Glen. The setting of the Scottish Highlands in the 1950s is vivid, and a rock solid foundation for each book.

The plot of A Kind of Grief was set in motion by the story of the last witch burned in Scotland. Alice Ramsay is the alleged witch here, and there are alternating sections of the book told in her voice. She's a strong, likable woman with secrets that Scott has readers itching to learn. And what better way to learn them than through the persistence of Joanne Ross, another unconventional woman who's had to fight to find her own path to happiness for herself and her children? Joanne is still recuperating from devastating injuries that occurred in a previous book, and Alice Ramsay strikes a chord with her. Joanne's interest soon turns into obsession, and with those government types lurking in the shadows, it's altogether too easy for readers to begin to fear for this vulnerable woman.

But it's not just shadowy agents and oily art critics who need to be feared. There's a small-minded, evil-tongued woman in Alice's village-- the dreaded Mrs. MacKenzie-- who's gone so far past the mere title of gossipmonger that it boggles the mind. Scott uses characters like MacKenzie to prove that danger can live in plain sight... right in our midst.

I love Scott's books for their setting and their complex stories, but it's her characters and her insight into human nature that make them dear to my heart. A Kind of Grief is another strong entry in this series, and I look forward to the next. A.D. Scott's writing reminds me a great deal of Louise Penny's, and I would urge Penny's fans to sample life in the Highlands. Scott's characters grow and change throughout the series, so I recommend starting at the beginning. You're in for a treat. ( )
  cathyskye | Oct 6, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 147675618X, Paperback)

Set against the grandeur of the Northern Scottish Highlands in the 1950s, here is the sixth evocative, fast-paced, suspenseful mystery in A. D. Scott’s highly acclaimed series featuring beloved heroine Joanne Ross.

Praised for their “well-drawn characters” (Publishers Weekly), “ingenious” plotting (Booklist, starred review), and “a terrific sense of place” (Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of Hush Now, Don’t You Cry), A. D. Scott’s mysteries never fail to enthrall and entertain. Now, in Scott’s latest, Joanne Ross returns for a spellbinding case involving a woman accused of witchcraft in small-town Scotland.

When Alice Ramsay, artist and alleged witch, is found dead in her home in a remote Scottish glen, the verdict is suicide.

But Joanne Ross of the Highland Gazette refuses to believe it. As she investigates Alice’s past, Joanne uncovers layer upon layer of intrigue. With the appearance of officials from a secretive government agency and an ambitious art critic from a national newspaper, Joanne is increasingly convinced that something—and someone—from Alice’s past was involved in her death.

As in her previous mysteries North Sea Requiem, Beneath the Abbey Wall, and A Double Death on the Black Isle, among others, A. D. Scott brings to life compelling characters and vividly portrays the charms and intrigues of a small town in 1950s Scotland. With surprising twists and a shocking dénouement that poses moral questions as relevant now as six decades ago, A Kind of Grief is another unforgettable entry in an atmospheric series that will draw you in and linger in your mind like mist over the Scottish glens.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 19 Jul 2015 11:31:17 -0400)

Joanne Ross investigates the death of an artist and alleged witch, who was found dead in her home on a remote glen in Scotland.

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