Cover Image: Hop Scot

Hop Scot

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Member Reviews

Hop Scot is the sixth cozy(ish) Last Ditch mystery by Catriona McPherson. Released 5th Dec 2023 by Severn House, it's 240 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout.

This is such an exuberantly fun "closed" setting for a murder mystery. It's holiday themed, with the group of misfit friends jetting off to Scotland to visit Lexy's parents and experience the dubious joys of Scotland in the wintertime. They couldn't possibly be more disparate; plucked from different cultures, socioeconomic strata, backgrounds, orientations, and family makeups, they're knitted together by circumstances and their apparently genuine fondness for one another. And now they're on the loose in Scotland.

Faced with a skeleton in a previously bricked up room in Lexy's parents' new manor home, a la Cask of Amontillado, they are determined to sleuth out the guilty party and set about investigating in their own inimitable way. The "whodunit" and "how" is an impressively funny comedy of errors which reads like a cross between I Love Lucy, Scooby-Doo, and Queer Eye, with a little comedic Lost in Translation for good measure.

Despite being the 6th book in the series, it worked quite well as a standalone and readers won't have much trouble keeping the principal characters straight. All the disparate subplots wind together quickly into a satisfying (and exciting) denouement and resolution. The author has quite a talent with comedic timing and characterization and her comparisons of American and Scottish culture are spot on and very funny.

Five stars. Definitely a good one for fans of comedic light murder cozies, and this series continues to move from strength to strength.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This is huge, Christmassy fun. I’ve grown very fond of Lexy and her found family. But I would strongly advise that you don’t plunge straight into this one, if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading at least a couple of the other books in the series – preferably the first one. McPherson jumps into this offering without stopping to introduce the core cast of characters other than in a cursory manner. Which is fine, given this is a murder mystery after all, and the pace needs to be kept up. But there are nine characters in the found family – and that doesn’t include Lexy’s parents. So if you aren’t already acquainted with them, then you’re likely to flounder with the welter of names and passing character traits, designed to jog the memory of Last Ditch fans.

I didn’t have much difficulty, because the moment I opened up the book, my memory of the characters came flooding back. After all, they’re old friends. I just hoped that by the end of this adventure, I would still be as fond of them. And I was. The story had me laughing aloud, to the extent that I was struggling not to wake Himself. I’m aware that humour is highly personal, but I find McPherson’s mix of language misunderstanding – particularly now the gang have pitched up in Scotland – and her version of OTT slapstick enormously enjoyable. It’s not usually my kind of thing, but the delivery is so laconic and clever that it just draws me in.

Of course, I didn’t just pick this one up for the laughs. I like a well-plotted murder mystery and I enjoyed the sheer tongue-in-cheek genre trope of a skeleton in the cellar of a rambling country house. I thought McPherson played with reader expectations in a really enjoyable way and provided some nice twists. The Christmas aspect of the whole tale is very well done – giving us the required snow and fairy lights, which worked well with Lexy’s usual cynicism. There is a huge plot twist regarding the family’s future that comes at the end of this, which leaves me hoping the next book in this charming series isn’t too far in the future. All in all, this entertaining and very funny Christmas whodunit comes very highly recommended. While I obtained an arc of Hop Scot from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.


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I'm not normally a fan of picking up a series midway through but this was the exception to the rule. The characters read like old friends. I love the setting for the book and the plot though complicated (yes Scots law really is as confusing as that) was entertaining and engaging. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

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Why not kick off the new year with a new mystery series sure to make you laugh out loud? I know I will.

After reading Hop Scot by Catriona McPherson, where Lexy Campbell’s friends and cohorts join her on a hop across the country and the pond, from California home to Scotland for the holidays, I have to go back and start the Last Ditch Mystery series from the beginning, for more of this crew, a bit of chaos and laughter.

McPherson’s writing is spectacular in beautiful, impeccable detail. From the first sentence: “The sacks of sand and cement were heavier than the corpse and felt even more dead, settled over a shoulder as they were, their bulk held still with both hands.”

Her keen insight and quick wit are also spot-on to make for a fun read with a twisty mystery that keeps you guessing. Throw in a school of fish out of water at Christmas in a Scottish castle and hilarity is bound to ensue.

I highly recommend Catriona McPherson’s Hop Scot. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already purchased the first book in the series: Scot Free. I received this advance reader copy from Severn Books, courtesy of NetGalley.

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This book was unique in that a large group of friends from California go to Scotland to visit one of them - Lexy's parents. The friends enjoy Scotland so much they want to move there but Lexy is hesitant. Her parents have a new home and when an Owl's nest falls down a hole, the group discovers a body. Without giving any more away, I want to say this book is a fun read and I will definitely recommend it and read the other books in this series. I'm already a Catriona McPherson fan from her other series'.

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I kind of inadvertently read this. As a big fan of Catriona McPherson's other books I immediately wanted to read it. Then, once I got it, I realised that it was part of the 'Last Ditch' series, only one of which (#4) I have read and, well, just didn't like it. So, tbh, I just skipped through this, missing out whole chunks just to get to the end. It seemed OK. The gang head to Scotland for Christmas, get involved in an old murder case, and that's about all I got from it. Lots of dialogue, the usual Scottish clichés. But note to self - don't request any more of this series!

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)

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Lexy Campbell and the Last Ditch motel gang travel to Scotland to visit Lexy's parents and spend Christmas together. But instead of a nostalgic homecoming, Lexy is shocked to learn Judith & Keith Campbell have recently bought a huge stone mansion with plans to open a B&B.

Mistletoe Hall in Yule at first looks idyllic but berry thieves and the discovery of a 60-year skeleton in the bricked-up basement forces Lexy, Todd, and Kathi to investigate.

This is a delightful hilarious entry in the Last Ditch mystery series.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Severn House. All opinions are my own.

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Oh my days - the Last Ditch crew are coming to Scotland! For Christmas. It was only supposed to be Lexy to introduce her fiance to her parents. But, one by one, all of them decide that they all need a holiday. Luckily, and they don't find this out until they get there, Lexy's parents have just bought a Mistletoe Hall in the village of Yule (I know!). Which they intend to open as a B&B. Lexy and her friends being test-guests!
Things tick over for a while as they settle in but then there's a crash and a baby owl is disturbed. (Yes I know, it's the season for many things, Christmas, but not usual baby owls but still...) and then there's a theft. And just when they are all just about coping with that little lot, there's a discrepancy with the length of a corridor. A wall is removed and... there's a body...
And so begins more of the same fun and frolics that you will have grown to expect from this series. Being a series, you have read the previous books, haven't you. I think you should as there are a lot of strange characters in this series and they all have their own idiosyncrasies which you might not appreciate if you go in cold.
The mystery was all things I expected from the crew but with the added sprinkle of the change of scenery (away from the motel) and the addition of some veritable Christmas cheer. It held my attention all the way through as it meandered towards the end, with a lot of observational humour peppered throughout. Especially concerning Scottish weather, pubs and Big shops!
All in all, a worth addition to an already well loved series... I am very excited to see what the crew get up to next time. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

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I love a golf old fashioned whodunnit. I love a small town setting. I also love it when it's set in my own wee country but most of them tend to be written by Americans or Canadians. That means things are always just a wee no matter how well researched. So this was a breath of fresh air - a mystery written about an ex-pat Scot, coming to Scotland for the holidays, written by an actual ex-pat Scot!

I really enjoyed getting to know the indomitable Lexy and her clan of quirly family members - biological and found. Learning more about her life pre-California and the stressed relationship with her parents over her change in careers and the breakdown of her marriage.

This family excels at keeping secrets, for good or ill, and they all have this notion of what their past relationship was like - if you blend all the versions together you'll probably get something approximating the truth.

The American branch of Lexy's family seem to think she's overegged the gruesome Scottish weather and the sheer bloody-mindedness of the locals. But they are all spectacularly surprised to find that Lexy is not quite as wrong as they thought. They all latch onto facets of the locals that they love and before you know it Lexy is not only trying to find a murderer but is also trying to tamp down all the new found Caledonophilia they have!

I've missed the previous books in the series but have now added them to my ever-growing TBR. This story is a great mix of murder, locked room mystery, nostalgia and the subtle insults that only Scots can level at themselves and our country. I had a giggle over all the "Greggs" and weather jokes and subtle taking the mickey out of Americans and their love affairs with castles, Outlander and all things Tartan.

Just the right length and mix of characters to enjoy but not get bogged down in trying to keep everyone straight. I did feel the local police were the butt of too many jokes but as I do work for Police Scotland I can take offence and a joke at the same time!

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My thanks for the ARC goes to NetGalley and Severn House. I'm voluntarily leaving a review without receiving compensation.

Genre: Mystery, Farce, Cozy Mystery
Gore Level: Low
Language: Pretty high with f-bombs and such
Representation: Multiple side characters fit within the LGBTQ community, Racially diverse secondary characters

There are A LOT of best friends in this friend group! As in, the guide at the front was pretty essential. Two in the group went missing in action for most of the book, but there is a steep learning curve if you haven't read other books in the series.

There are more characters carried over from previous books than suspects. Since I was navigating the farce of the owl and owl egg, the Scottish turns of phrase, Christmas, quirky characters, and Tesco—it made it harder to figure out whodunnit. I thought this part of the novel came together brilliantly.

I enjoyed the book and some of the silly moments along with the ways the author pokes fun of both Americans and Scots. Get gets a check mark in the funny box. The mystery aspect was also creative. I always love a good plot twist.

If you've read the previous ones in the series, you're not going to want to miss this one. If you're new to this author, you might want to start at the beginning.

Happy reading!

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Lexy and her friends head back to Scotland for Christmas with her parents. Everything is great. In fact, a little too great for Lexy’s taste. She is annoyed that her friends like Scotland and her parents as much as they do. Nevertheless, her mother and father are determined to roll out a grand Christmas for everyone, and it looks like they will until a falling branch in the night ultimately leads to the discovery of a hidden room with a skeleton. She and two of her friends are hired by the neighbors to find out how that skeleton got where it did. 

My Thoughts

This was an exceptionally funny story with great Christmas atmosphere and an interesting mystery. 

The book relies very heavily on dialogue which, on occasion, it made it tricky to know what was going on in a scene. At the same time, the author is very skillful at writing humorous dialogue.

The characters were diverse which I very much appreciated, but because it was the sixth book in the series and because of the intensive use of dialogue, it wasn’t until the end of the book that I began to figure out who anyone was. I’m still not sure of specifics - like who had the germ phobia and who had the insect issue. Because I recognized the new characters from Scotland  more easily,  I think the problem was that the dialogue driven approach didn’t give much space to make introductions to pre-established characters. 

Of the characters, the lawyer, Mr. K, was my absolute favorite. He had so much personality! I would love to see him in further books in the series or with a series of his own. 

However, it was harder to develop much feeling for the characters from the previous books because they all, including Lexy, seemed pretty self-absorbed. Perhaps going back and trying earlier books would help with that.

The mystery had a limited suspect pool because the crime had taken place years prior to the story, and as a result there were fewer clues to follow, but it was a well-crafted and an enjoyable mystery with some entertaining twists. 

What Else I Liked

As a Christmas mystery it excelled. There was a really fabulous Christmas atmosphere. The food, weather, decor, carols and shopping experiences created a perfect Christmas package.

The flight attendant on the private flight had a minor role, but there was something very entertaining about her efficiency. However, I found that the idea of a pediatrician being able to afford a private flight called for some serious suspension of disbelief. Once I got past that, it added to the fairy tale quality of the Christmas mystery experience.

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The Last Ditch gang returns, this time for a travel adventure as Lexi leads them all to Scotland, where her parents have some major surprises for her. Everyone has a reason to want to take the trip, and the opportunity to travel in luxury makes it an easy decision for all. I hope for the author’s sake that this book required lots of first-hand research on super-high-end travel with friends. The change of scene makes everything fun, with all the familiar personalities on display but with plenty of new things (and different birds!) to bring out everyone’s funniest quirks. Lexy’s narration is casually hilarious—Catriona McPherson at her best. Solving the mystery of a decades-old murder (a puzzle with the danger long past) is just right for a Christmas vacation project for this crew.

Thanks to Netgalley and Severn House for a digital advance review copy.

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Lexy Campbell and her friends from the Last-Ditch Hotel in California travel to Scotland to spend the Christmas holidays with Lexy's parents. Lexy and friends arrive in Scotland to find that the Campbells have sold Lexy's childhood home and are now owners of a B&B. A body is found walled up in the basement and it appears that there is a 60-year-old mystery to solve.

This is the 6th book in this series but the first one that I have read. here were a lot of characters and it took me a while to figure out relationships. I would suggest you need to read this series in order and from the beginning to be able to understand the characters and their relationships to one another. There were a lot of characters and sometimes hard to keep up with them during the story.

It was an enjoyable overall. Thank you to Severn House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book and give my honest review.

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This hilarious breath of fresh air from Catriona McPherson has rocketed on to my all time favorite Christmas mystery list. This series centers on Scot Lexy Campbell, who has settled in the strange land of California, and lives in a motel surrounded by an array of interesting characters who often help her solve crimes. Her “real” job is working as a life coach, but honestly, sleuthing takes front and center stage for her.

In this outing McPherson has flipped the script, and sent Lexy and her buddies home (Lexy’s home, anyway) to Scotland for Christmas. While it was a trip planned for just her and her fiancée, their buddy Roger the doc says he needs to get out of town and buys them all swanky airplane tickets – how can they refuse?

On the way over, Lexy warns her friends that Scotland is rainy, cold, grey and full of hostility at every corner. They ignore her. When Lexy’s parents – who seem especially twinkly to Lexy – appear to pick them up at the airport, they are not taken to Lexy’s childhood home of Dundee, but to the tiny town of Yule (adorable as it sounds) where they have apparently bought a castle that functions as a B & B. Lexy and her friends are the first guinea pig guests.

As her friends rhapsodize over the adorable town and the beautiful home, it’s not until Lexy meets the snarky barmaid at the local pub that she actually feels she’s back in Scotland. When a skeleton is found in the cellar in a concealed room, all heck breaks loose, involving a baby owl, a broken tree branch, stolen holly boughs, and the various parts of the family who have just sold the place to Lexy’s parents.

This book was both charming and funny. The mystery is clever but it’s only part of the fun of the story, which is just the right length, just the right number of characters, and just the right amount of sweetness and spice. In short, just right. I enjoyed this read about as much as any book I’ve read in quite awhile, and that includes a re-read of a few Agatha Christie titles. Happy Hogmanay!

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The latest in a series that plays off differences between Scotland and the US- and it should be fine as a standalone. Lexy's going home for Christmas- but things have changed. Her parents are just the same except that they have a large new home they're planning to turn into a bed and breakfast. She's brought her pals Todd and Kathy with her so when a body, a long dead body, is found, of course they will investigate. This time out it's Todd and Kathy who struggle a bit with the differences in attitude and language but that doesn't hamper them from finding the village. This series rides on humor (sometimes it gets to be a bit over the top) and warmth between the characters- the mysteries are pretty standard cozy stuff. Thanks the Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.

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A very entertaining and festive mystery that made me laugh and having fun. Catriona McPherson is an excellent storyteller and this is an entertaining series.
Another good addition that kept me entertained and guessing
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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This is an okay mystery. It is the sixth book in a series and the first one that I have read. That may be why I wasn't thrilled. There were a lot of characters all of whom were on a holiday trip to a Scottish village called Yule. I had trouble keeping track of everyone and their relationships which, for me, distracted from the plot.
Thanks to NetGalley for an eGalley of this title.

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Lexy and the residents of the Last Ditch motel go to Dundee to celebrate Christmas with her parents, but no sooner have they landed than Lexy's parents drop bombshell after bombshell on the group and Lexy finds a skeleton walled up behind the storeroom in her parents' new home.

This is a funny series in both meanings of the word. There is a lot of humour derived from the differences in language between Brits/Scots and Americans which can become grating. I received an ARC of the fourth book, really enjoyed and went back and read the first two books, then kind of overdosed on the humour and found the ending a bit confusing. Then I seem to have totally missed the fifth book but saw this on NetGalley and requested it. Then it sat on my TBR pile for six weeks because I remembered the humour.

Anyway, this was a laugh-riot. There was still a lot of humour derived from the different vocabularies of the Americans and the Scots but it felt gentler, less manic. I understood the ending as well.

If the thought of two gay doctors, a germophobe, a family with an extremely loud baby, twitchers (as in bird fanciers), a mistletoe thief, a small Scottish village, and a big Tesco shop on Christmas Eve eve sounds like your idea of fun then this could be the book for you.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

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"It's all aboard for a Campbell Clan Christmas! Lexy swaps cinnamon lattes for boiled sprouts when the Last Ditch crew travel from California to an idyllic Scottish village for the holidays, but something very unmerry is lurking below the surface...

Lexy Campbell is long overdue a trip to Scotland to see her parents, and an unexpected death in the extended Last Ditch Motel family makes Christmas in a bungalow in Dundee with nine others seem almost irresistible.

But when Lexy and the Last Ditch crew hop across the Atlantic, there's been a change of plan and they're whisked off to Mistletoe Hall in the pretty village of Yule, where the surprises continue. The news that a man disappeared from the crumbling pile sixty years ago, along with an unsettling discovery in the bricked-up basement, means that Todd, Kathi and Lexy - Trinity for Trouble - must solve another murder.

Deadly secrets, berry rustlers, skeletons and a snowy Christmas Eve in the booze aisle at Tesco: the Last Ditch crew won't forget their Scottish holiday in a hurry!"

I mean, Christmas means murder to me. Through in a Scottish setting and I'm extra happy.

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Quirky mystery set in Scotland. Lexy and her friends travel to Scotland to visit her parents and find a skeleton. A light read filled with insider jokes among this group of friends and lots of Scottish slang - a series best read in order to understand all of the relationships. Thank you to Netgalley for providing the ARC and to publisher Severn House.

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