A Double Death on the Black Isle
A stunning and suspenseful story of families, betrayal, and a community divided.
Nothing is ever quite at peace on Scotland’s Black Isle—the Traveling people are forever at odds with the locals, the fishermen have nothing in common with the farmers, and the villages have no connection with the town. But when two deaths occur on the same day, involving the same families from the same estate—the Black Isle seems as forbidding as its name.
Joanne Ross, typist at the Highland Gazette, is torn whether to take on the plum task of reporting on these murders—after all, the woman at the center of both crimes is one of her closest friends. Joanne knows the story could be her big break, and for a woman in the mid-1950s—a single mother, no less—good work is hard to come by.
But the investigation by the staff on the Gazette reveals secrets that will forever change this quiet, remote part of the Highlands. The ancient feudal order is crumbling, loyalties are tested, friendships torn apart, and the sublime beauty of the landscape will never seem peaceful again.
Read an Excerpt
Cycling across the suspension bridge over the wide, fast-flowing river Joanne Ross glanced down—no, no bodies. She looked up at the pink-red castle filling the skyline and the town circling around it—no, no ambulances, no fire engines, no accidents. On the last few panting yards up the cobbled steepness of Castle Wynd she looked towards the police station and courthouse, hoping for anyone, anything of interest. Then she caught herself.
What are you? Some kind of ghoul? Wishing for death and drama so you can have a scoop on the front page of the Gazette? So you can impress your... see more
Reading Group Guide
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. Joanne and Patricia’s friendship is based on their shared history, but no longer translates as clearly to their present. Look closely at their interactions. How does their relationship evolve over the course of the novel? What moments in the text serve as particular turning points?
2. Were you familiar with the Tinkers (or Travelers) before reading this novel? Are there other minority groups that you find them similar to?
3. Rob is offered a job at the bigger, fancier newspaper in Aberdeen, but he decides to stay at the Highland Gazette. Did you agree with his decision?
4. As Rob thinks through Joanne’s excuses for her bruises, he hits upon the truth: “Joanne, it’s simple. Take him to court, have him locked away. And to his almost twenty-year-old thinking, it was that simple.” To the narrator and Joanne herself, however, it clearly isn’t. What do you think?
5. Family loyalty is critically important in this novel. Discuss the see more