The Unforgiven Dead
by Fulton Ross
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Pub Date 25 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 20 Jul 2023
You could have saved her.
Sure as the tide against his Highland shores, the refrain beats into Constable Angus MacNeil’s mind. For years it has haunted him, accompanied by the faces of those he could not save—the Burned Man, the Strangled Woman, the Drowned Boy. All witnesses to a secret he cannot share and a gift he now refuses to embrace.
You could have saved her. The refrain drives Angus to the seashore at dawn, where a girl lies on the unblemished sand. She wears a green cloak and cradles a corps creadha, a Highland voodoo doll. She has suffered a ritualistic, three-fold death—her head bludgeoned, her throat cut, and symbolically drowned.
It is Faye Chichester, daughter of an American billionaire whose mission to reintroduce wolves to the Highlands has embroiled the village of Glenruig. But even as media and police swarm the area, that refrain—you could have saved her—echoes in all Angus’s thoughts. For he carries a burden, a blessing, a curse, a secret—dà-shealladh, the second sight of Gaelic lore.
Gills MacMurdo, noted folklorist, academic, and Angus’s oldest friend, confirms what the dà-shealladh is warning. Just as Faye’s death was three-fold, so must the murder victims fulfil the ancient pattern. More will die, unless Angus does what he must—close his eyes and see.
“Writing so vivid you can feel the kiss of the Highland mist on your cheeks … a richly textured debut that is not to be missed by lovers of crime fiction.” — Douglas Skelton
“Spellbinding. PC Angus MacNeil must confront the curse of his own hidden gift if he is to prevent another brutal murder.” — Andrew James Grieg, 2020 CWA New Blood Dagger Longlist and McIlvanney finalist
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Average rating from 18 members
I was drawn to this book by its description and dramatic sounding title.
This was a dark, gritty thriller, and a very well-written one. I was drawn into the story right from the start. I didn't feel any particularly strong connection with any of the characters, or even find them particularly likeable, but the writing was so powerful, and I was drawn to the story itself more than the characters.
The book's tone, and some of its themes, reminded me of Peter May's Entry Island, which is one of my favourite books that I've read a few times.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy to review.
Wow. Read this one! The writing was so engaging and the plot so solid I had hard time ;putting it down. While I couldn't really connect with the characters, that didn't detract from the story, surprisingly. Easily a five star read.
This Tartan Horror/Mystery had me creeped out in the middle of the night! And yet, I couldn’t put it down, spine shivers be damned!
The novel revolves around a murder of a young girl and the mystery of her gruesome death, as seen through the eyes of the local constable who is investigating it, Angus. But this policeman is extraordinarily gifted with paranormal (in)sight, a legacy of his own haunted past. What results is a deeply engrossing whodunit woven through with Gaelic history and culture. For readers who enjoy hints of the demonic, pagan, and ancient evils, The Unforgiven Dead will have you prancing a ritual dance. For readers who love a twisted murder mystery, one in which the murderer is hidden in plain sight alá Agatha Christie, The Unforgiven Dead will absolutely make you squeal once the culprit is exposed.
But the story alone is not the novel’s only draw. The characters of this novel are deftly crafted, their dialogue mimics life, their motivations are raw and human and utterly flawed. For readers of literary fiction, the trials of Angus, Nadia, Gills, and Ashleigh will rent your heart. Their lives mimic reality and their hurts are ones we are likely to relate to, if we don’t know them well already.
The Unforgiven Dead leaves me pining for a moody, grey Scotland more than I could have imagined.