The Gathering Murders by Keith Moray

‘All you needed was a little help, wasn’t it?

Welcome to The Gathering, the annual literary festival held on West Uist, a tiny island in the Scottish Hebrides. It’s a grand event which causes the population of the island to double, thus creating a few headaches for the small local police force. The influx of people means that there’s parking to be managed, and sometimes people over indulge in the drink. But Inspector Torquil McKinnon and his team have made their plans, and hope that all will go smoothly. After all, Torquil himself has his own part to play: he’s a piper, entered in one of the competitions at The Gathering.

Alas, to quote another famous literary Scotsman, Robert Burns: ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley’. And so it proves here. Ranald Buchanan, the local poet is found dead. It’s been suggested that he tripped and fell. While Torquil McKinnon investigates, another body is found. Another writer. Unquestionably murdered. Now it’s personal: the second body belongs to someone to whom Torquil is very close.

The island is in lockdown: no-one can leave while Torquil and his team try to find the killer. Is anyone else at risk?

I really enjoyed this novel, trying to work out who killed whom and why. Mr Moray has introduced a fine cast of characters: there’s more than one suspect. There’s also plenty of interference from Torquil McKinnon’s superior officer as well as a red herring or two.

And the killer? You’ll need to read the novel to find out for yourself. I didn’t work it out until the end: very cleverly done, Mr Moray! An interesting and entertaining cozy murder mystery that held by attention from beginning to end. I understand that this is the first in a series.

Note: My thanks to Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith