February 05, 2009

New Historical Mystery

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by Shona McLean is not a straight-forward murder mystery. The author lives in the Scottish city of Banff where the book is set in the 1620s and it is obviously well informed by her studies in history. She deftly invokes the social setting of the times, where the town leaders had moral as well as legal authority over the townspeople. I particularly liked the touch where a crucial witness was banished from the town for being a prostitute and the understanding we gain of the effects of these kinds of laws. The protaganist, Alexander Seaton, must find his way to the truth and to an understanding of his own past failings before he can achieve the redemption of the title and it is a fascinating journey. The humanity of the characters coping with what is to us a very unfamiliar world is well drawn and although I found it a little slow to start, if you persevere you will have a very satisfactory read.

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