It begins with an apparent husband-wife murder-suicide – but with no apparent motive, so the case is left open. Then, months later, the director of a local museum devoted to the “Hoolish Stones.” Similar to and perhaps older than Stonehenge, falls to his death after what looks like a bit too much alcohol. Not long after, a young woman in a hippie-like spiritual organization falls to her death while keeping watch on the stones for the approaching summer solstice.
Inspector Torquil McKinnon of West Uist in the Orkney Islands finds his hands even more full. Someone has attacked Calum Scott, the local newspaper editor-reporter-owner, with a brick thrown through the window on the newspaper offices. McKinnon’s own constable is knocked out while investigating the brick incident.
And Sergeant Lorna Glospie is assigned to McKinnon’s team by his arch-nemesis and boss Superintendent Lumsden to perform an audit, aka spying on the team to find something Lumsden can use to get McKinnon dismissed. What Lumsden doesn’t foresee is McKinnon and Glospie falling for each other.
Murder Solstice by Keith Moray is the third in the Inspector McKinnon mystery series. And it serves up a mix of New Age spirituality, secret dogfighting, and a considerable number of crimes for a small Orkney community.
Moray has published five Inspector MacKinnon novels, with a sixth scheduled for later this year. He’s also published three historical novels, The Pardoner’s Crime, The Fool’s Folly, and The Curse of the Body Snatchers; non-fiction books (under the pen name Keith Souter); and several westerns as Clay Moore. When he’s not writing, he practices medicine as a part-time doctor and medical journalist (he studied medicine at the University of Dundee). He lives in Yorkshire in England.
Murder Solstice takes its time in helping the investigation team realize that too many dead people are turning up in what can’t be coincidences, but once they understand, the story moves at lightning speed. The mystery is as enjoyable for its Orkney setting, inspector-sergeant romance, and often comic carrying on by the minor characters as it is for the primary crime story.