#36 Loch of the Dead by Oscar de Muriel

The Scottish Highlands, 1889.

When a young heir receives a sinister death threat, Inspectors Frey and ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray answer a desperate plea to offer him protection.

The detectives travel north to the remote and misty Loch Maree, site of an ancient burial ground. They must stay with the mysterious Koloman family – any one of whom might be a suspect.

But Frey and McGray have little time to get their bearings. Even before they arrive the boy’s guardian is brutally murdered, and one thing becomes clear to the two detectives:

Someone is willing to kill to protect the secrets of Loch Maree.

Paperback | 448 pages

Publisher: Penguin (31st May, 2018)

Read – Monday 4th-Tuesday 5th May.

Ok, so this book was intense from the start! I mean, I kept thinking that at some point something had to give, but no. I was lost in this book from the second chapter and happy to stay there.

Quite easy. I’ve gotten used to Muriel’s writing style and feel very at home with his characters and settings. This book was particularly easy to get into.

Frey has always produced much humour for me. I have always enjoyed his uptight nature and general dislike for anything ‘dirty’. It has been fun to watch him grow with the series, but I always felt I knew more about McGray – who is so open – than Frey. This was remedied in this book, I got to see a different side of Frey and I was opened to much more of his character.

I feel like McGray mellowed a little in this book. He’s still the erratic, Scottish tornado but I felt like his spirit had calmed a little since the events of the last book. He seemed more open to listen to Frey as a person and not as a sparring partner.

There was definitely more emotion in this book, I remained emotionally involved for most of my read and it changed the way I read a little.

Frey’s uncle, Maurice was an interesting character and I wish I got to know more about him because he felt like a character who had seen it all and done it all. He was complex and mysterious, and I tried to look at him objectively and not solely from Frey’s POV.

I think it’s important to note that you don’t need to have visited Scotland to be able to visualise the places the characters go. In this book, there is even a map at the front of the book, showing where the islands are and the places of importance, which I found really helpful. It was easy for me to visualise when needed with this book.

I had so many theories and culprits swirling around my head as I read this. Far more than I usually had, and I felt so invested as I read this. There were so many avenues that I thought this book would go down – FYI all but 1 were wrong – but I only really worked out the correct theory in the last third of the book. Even then, I still didn’t know who the culprit was, and the ending surprised me in some ways and revealed my correct theories in another.

I did find this book a deeper read than some of the others in the series. This book did return to the roots of supernatural – in ways that I thought the book before missed – and it was rewarding to see Frey yet again faced with something he believed to be a myth. There was a little more talk of McGray’s sister in this book and I’m hoping this means that she’ll be featured more as the series continued. I’d like to read in detail about her journey from sister to murderess, to mental asylum patient.

I was going to read a Roald Dahl book next, but the ending of this book was such a cliff hanger that I’ve decided I NEED to read the next book in this series before I continue on with anything else!

This was a terrific read. I read it over two days and was completely gripped by the story. Muriel has a fantastic gift of taking a supernatural aspect and making it seem completely unique and original. I love the gothic creepy aspect of the novels and I still think its genius that the series is set in Victorian Edinburgh. Everything screams success. This book – and the ones before it – have completely captured my heart and so far, they’re the standout series of 2020 for me.

I don’t know anyone who has read these books or heard of the author, but I recommend everyone to read these, you won’t be disappointed.

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