Book Review – The Laird of Drumlychtoun by Hilary Pugh

books, reviews

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I started August by reviewing an ARC, so it only seemed right to finish it with one. This was another book that I got access to thanks to The Book Network. It sounded like fun and I love a story set in Scotland. I also thought it would be the perfect size to finish before the end of August. I find it really annoying to get most of the way through a book but not finish it in time. It starts the month off badly if you ask me and I need September to go perfectly. I’ve got a lot of letters to cross off and a book club pick that isn’t one of them. Meaning I’m looking at 10 books at least in the next 27 days. It would be easy for a different reader but my focus has been so up and down lately. Who knows how I’ll do.

The Laird of Drumlychtoun is the first full length mystery novel in Hilary Pugh’s Ian Skair: Private Investigator series. I picked this up without realising that it had been proceeded by a novella called Finding Lottie. It didn’t take me too long to realise as the previous work is referred to non-stop. A little too much in my opinion. I get that you want to create a sense of context and history but this novel assumed a level of knowledge about its reader. You don’t really get much history about the characters and certain supporting characters are mentioned with little or no explanation. It’s not a major problem but it does break up the natural flow of the story when the narrator is constantly reminiscing about things you didn’t experience with them.

The whole narration of the book is a little scatty. It seems like it’s trying to recreate more of a stream of consciousness vibe but it can be a bit jarring. One minute we’re investigating a mystery and the next the narrator is thinking about something totally unconnected. I don’t mind a story veering off in random directions but it doesn’t seem to happen for any reason. It’s not as if they often help with any breakthroughs. Mostly because Ian Skair is a pretty shrewd Private Investigator. He makes everything seem so easy, which I guess is what you want from a good detective. He knows what he’s doing and he finds things out pretty quickly. This is certainly a book that doesn’t waste any time and I enjoyed the pace.

It’s an entertaining story as well. I won’t pretend that it’s the most surprising thriller you’ll ever read but Hilary Pugh does leave you with one twist at the end. It’s a classic example of cosy crime. You just want to curl up with it and let go. Something that the Scottish setting helps with a lot. There’s a lot of driving through lush countryside and it’s brought to life in this book. You get a sense of Scotland and its people through Pugh’s story. It all starts with an email from the wife of the Laird of Drumlychtoun. His sister went missing years ago. Now that the laird, Alexander Lyton, has uncovered a long-hidden secret, he gets in touch with Skair to track down his sibling. Will Skair be able to find Ailish and reunite the brother and sister? And just what other secrets will he uncover along the way?

It won’t take a genius detective to figure out how this one ends but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun along the way. It’s a very traditional and classic mystery novel. A simple missing person case quickly becomes something more sinister and Skair finds himself getting into murkier waters. This is a very readable book that fans of cosy crime will surely enjoy. I wish there had been a bit more character development and time to establish the context of the novel. We learn very little about Skair and the people he meets along the way. The reader doesn’t have much chance to form their own opinion before Skair has figured them out for us. However, it’s a very charming book and I could definitely see myself reading more in the future.

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