Completely by chance, I discovered a new writer I really enjoy, Aline Templeton. I was trying to recall a book I read years ago, and only had a few pieces of information, which is why I was searching lists of fictional Scottish detectives, which is how I discovered there’s a mystery series starring a DI Marjory Fleming! And she’s a police detective in a tiny Scottish fishing village–it almost had to be an homage to little Marjory Fleming, child poet, didn’t it? Well, I had to read one and find out.
Our library doesn’t have the first in the series, unfortunately, so I started with the second one, The Darkness and the Deep. When the Knockhaven lifeboat is wrecked returning from a rescue mission, it seems like a terrible, but common, tragedy for the fishing village. It looks like pilot error led to a horrible mistake: the lifeboat wrecked trying to enter the dangerous Fool’s Inlet instead of safe Knockhaven Harbor. But a sharp-eyed policeman spots something odd at the mouth of the inlet: a green beacon. Someone has set up guidance lights to make the mouth of the inlet mimic the opening to the harbor–someone has deliberately caused the wreck of the lifeboat, an almost unimaginable crime. DI Fleming and her team must figure out which of the victims was the actual target: the beautiful, adulterous doctor; the publican with a checkered past and a violent teenage stepson; or the suicidal high school teacher, just that day accused of molesting a student? Or could it be the on-duty pilot who should have been on the boat, but was replaced at the last minute because he was too high on drugs to make the run? Each victim has several potential suspects who might have wanted them dead, and the police will sort through a lot of scandalous village secrets until they turn up the motive for these murders. Worse yet, it quickly becomes apparent that the killer wasn’t satisfied with the lifeboat wreck, and terrible “accidents” continue to claim lives in Knockhaven.
I really enjoyed the book; I liked DI Fleming and her circle of friends, family, and colleagues quite a lot. It wasn’t too hard to get into the story starting on book two: events from the first book are still resonating in The Darkness and the Deep, and the author gives enough back story to help the reader make sense of it, without revealing the solution to that case–very smart writing. I didn’t figure out who the killer was; I had my money on one of the red herrings. I’m not sure Templeton actually gave us enough information to figure it out–the solution sort of popped up from left field. But I didn’t feel cheated, because the killer was one of the characters we’d been spending time with–we just hadn’t been there for the crucial moments, and didn’t get the last two bits of information until just after the police did. But I enjoyed the journey, and I will certainly seek out more of Templeton’s books.