Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Lammas: 1588: A Calendar of Crime by Shirley McKay

First Line: Elspet left the sweepings for the tide to take out.
Told for years by her employer, pub owner Walter Bone, that she is ugly and that no one would ever want her, young Elspet is stunned when she catches the eye of a handsome laborer. She meets her sweetheart in secret and will do so again the night of the Lammas Fair, but her actions have not gone unnoticed.
Walter Bone has loved Elspet from the moment he met her. He goes to lawyer Hew Cullan to have the man draw up a foolproof will. He needs it because he plans to kill Elspet's lover, and he wants his property distributed the way he wants after he's hanged for murder. But Bone's jealousy and planning have unexpected consequences when Elspet disappears without a trace and Hew Cullan is left to sort everything out.
Having already purchased a mystery featuring 16th-century lawyer Hew Cullan based in St. Andrews, Scotland, I decided to meet him for the first time in this novella. This didn't turn out to be one of my better impulses because I walked right into the middle of a story in which everyone else was well-acquainted with Hew and I was not. This put me at somewhat of a disadvantage, but I still enjoyed the slice-of-life historical aspects of the story. I did feel as though I were walking the streets of St. Andrews in 1588, and I did enjoy trying to deduce what happened to the missing Elspet. The vernacular that McKay uses in her dialogue was a bit confusing from time to time, but the author does include a glossary in the back which helped a great deal.
Will I be meeting Hew Cullan again in the future? Yes, I do believe I will.

Lammas: 1588: A Calendar of Crime by Shirley McKay
eISBN: 9780857909145
Birlinn, Limited © 2016
eBook, 71 pages
Historical Mystery, #5 Hew Cullan mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. I'm glad you found some things to like about this one, Cathy. I always respect an author who can make me feel that I'm actually in a given place at a given time; that's not easy to do without 'information dump.'

  2. Sounds good. A new author and book for me. Thank you for the review.


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