Beneath the Abbey Wall
A.D. Scott
Atria Books / Simon and Schuster 2012
340 pages

Taking place amidst the conservative culture of late 1950s Scotland, where social conventions still rule, forbidden behaviours bring lasting shame, secrets are guarded to the death, and emotions are kept bound tightly under wraps, Beneath the Abbey Wall is the latest mystery novel by A D Scott.  It begins when the business manager of the Highland Gazette is found murdered on a bleak fall night.  Her editor, Mr. McAllister is summoned to identify the body.  Kindle version at Amazon

Gazette employees are stunned to receive the news of Mrs. Smart’s violent passing, and realize how little they knew her.  Their shock and grief are heightened, when one of their own, Deputy Editor Don McLeod, is arrested and held in suspicion.  No one believes Don capable of such an act, yet circumstantial evidence weighs heavily against him.  Mrs. Smart’s surprising wealth, and her puzzling choice of benefactors add to the mystery.

Gazette investigators reveal that the good woman was the product of a complicated history.  She held fast to dark and shameful secrets that extended their tendrils to effect many people, in both the present and the past.  A mysterious Canadian stranger hired to temporarily replace McLeod warms the loins and stirs the pot.

Likely based on factual occurrences, the back story is compelling.  A.D. Scott captures well the charm and personality of Scotland and its people, while she reveals disturbing secrets of its past.  Characters and their respective plights are interesting, but it’s those with a lesser presence that evoke the most sympathy.  Others simply make bad choices.

Information is revealed slowly and circuitously.  Beneath the Abbey Wall by A.D. Scott has layered and complicated plot that becomes even more dense as the story progresses.  It is interesting, but it could be tighter.