Books: Highland Laddie Gone

>> Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Stop the presses: I've re-read a book.

Yes, it's true. Many moons ago, when I was a young lad in college, I read many Sharyn McCrumb mysteries. I'm particularly fond of the Elizabeth MacPherson novels, as well as her Edgar award-winning Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool. (Both fun mysteries.)

I'm working on a mystery set at the Gatlinburg, TN Highland Games, so I thought it only fair to revisit McCrumb's take on the same idea: Highland Laddie Gone. Her murder mystery is set in Virginia, but the festivals are much the same.

McCrumb writes incredibly well. I read part of this aloud in the car to my wife on a long car trip, and it was written so conversationally and so cleverly that it was a joy for us both. I think I would have liked to see the murder happen a little sooner in the book - there's quite a lot of set up and very little detecting that actually goes on - but she's created a great cast of characters that it's fun to follow without a murder investigation. Then again, we know pretty much from the start who's going to get it (the guy nobody likes) and half the fun is trying to see who hates him most - or perhaps just enough to stick him with a traditional Scottish dagger.

There's also a subtext of Shakespeare throughout this book, particularly as lines from the Scottish play are key to one part of the mystery. But McCrumb shows an easy felicity with the Bard in other ways, too, belying the super-regional Appalachian setting and tone.

Perhaps my favorite thing about McCrumb is her ability to immerse the reader in quirky sub-cultures, honoring their earnestness while at the same time poking good-natured fun at them. (See Bimbos of the Death Sun for a great send-up of sci-fi/fantasy conventioning.) She walks a fine line here, showing us both the fun and the foolishness of American Highland festivals, but her amateur detective, Elizabeth MacPherson, is just naive enough and just self-conscious enough to not only pull off that balance, but also epitomize it.

Well worth the re-read!


Post a Comment

Hello! Thanks for dropping by our blog. Feel free to agree or disagree with us, or just chime in with moral support. We leave most everything, but we of course reserve the right to delete anything that's needlessly nasty, profane, or spam. Now, if you'll just insert your two cents into the slot below...

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Read Alan's archived newsletters here.

Blog Archive

Swell Stuff

My Etsy Favorites

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP