We’re back in the Hebrides with Inspector Torquil MacKinnon. Astronomers and astrologists from all over are arriving in West Uist, where MacKinnon and his police team are based. People are coming to experience what’s called the “transit,” when Mercury aligns with Venus and the other planets are in close alignment as well.
More than the usual rivalry between the groups seems to be at play. The astrologists consider themselves more advanced and free-thinking; the astronomers are more than irritated at what they see as unscientific nonsense about how planets affect people’s behaviors. They all attend a lecture but one of the leading astrologists, a woman with a Ph.D. in astronomy who’s embraced the astrological side.
Words are said. And then more than words. The woman’s body is found floating in the harbor the next morning, and the autopsy shows she was bludgeoned from behind and then fell, or was dumped, into the water.
MacKinnon and his team get to work. He’s dealing with the usual interference from his boss in Scotland, suspects who kept avoiding telling all of what they know, and a newspaper editor and reporter who think they can solve the mystery themselves. And then there’s a second murder.
Death in Transit by British author Keith Moray is the fifth of six Torquil MacKinnon mysteries. It’s a good story, highlighted by the astronomy-astrology rivalry, but it seems a bit choppy in places and a few surprise developments that come out of left field. But it reads well, and Moray leaves enough hints for the reader to begin to identify the killer.
In addition to the Inspector MacKinnon novels, Moray has 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.
Flotsam & Jetsam by Keith Moray.