John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.
This is the twelfth Rhona MacLeod novel. The setting for this book is on the island of Sanday, one of Britain’s northernmost islands.
Rhona and her forensic assistant, Crissy are sent to excavate a grave in the middle of winter. Time is of the essence as daylight hours are few and the weather is nothing short of abysmal most of the time. Meanwhile, a suspicious death of an old man in Glasgow, seemingly with connections to the island, causes DS Michael McNab to be sent to investigate on the island. Unlike Rhona, who feels very much at home in the Orkney Islands, McNab is very much a city man used to internet and CCTV. For him, his stay on the island will be a torture.
They are joined by Orkney native DI Erling Flett as they battle to uncover the truth behind some unexplained incidents alongside the discovery of thirteen “magic flowers” which represent the souls of dead children who had been pupils at the school where the long-buried corpse has been discovered.
Anderson has written an intriguing novel which slowly unwinds as, little by little, the forensic team and the police make progress in their investigation. The characters are well-drawn and Anderson creates a wonderfully chilling (and chilly) atmosphere, expertly leading the reader along, albeit somewhat slowly. There is a lot of character development as we delve into McNab’s problems with alcohol, Flett’s problems with his boyfriend and a newcomer to the island with secrets to hide, Mike Jones. It is not a supernatural novel but the spirits of the dead play an important part in the story. It all leads up to a perfectly satisfying dénouement and it leaves us anxiously awaiting the next adventure for Rhona MacLeod.