Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I like my crime fiction to feature past crimes which are bought into the present, that feeling of past and present becoming so tightly linked is really appealing and so the premise to Sewing the Shadows Together called to me from the moment I read the synopsis.

Shona McIver was raped and murdered over thirty years ago, she was just thirteen years old Her brother Tom and her family moved to South Africa following the shocking crime in in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Her best friend Sarah remained in Portobello but what happened left a long shadow over both of their lives.

In the present day it is announced that the once young man, committed to hospital after being convicted of her murder, is to be released. Worse still it has been proved that he wasn’t the murderer. Tom is in Portobello at the time the police re-open their investigation having travelled over on family business and to attend a school reunion. What better background can you conjure up than a reunion organised by just the sort of woman who always organise such events, pushy and shallow with a conviction that everyone must have fun! The question is, is the real killer someone Tom and Sarah know; will the murderer be unmasked?

The emotions are so perfectly drawn in this novel. There is a bit of everything on the entire spectrum and because I was so drawn into the tale, I really felt the highs along with the lows. With a fast-moving plot with a surprising number of potential suspects who could have been part of the secret that Shona mentioned on the evening she disappeared. The result for the reader is many theories built and swiftly dashed to smithereens as another smidgen of information is revealed; just the kind of plotting I most enjoy. Although there was one moment when the coincidence seemed a little too convenient, on the whole I was convinced by the plot, in other words the clues were there.

And then there is the setting, which, because I chose to read Sewing the Shadows Together because Joanne from Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie have kindly provided a piece for the next Put A Book on the Map post which will be up tomorrow, is nothing but evocative. I have never been to Edinburgh and yet the seaside suburb of Portobello lends itself perfectly to the scene of the murder.  Don’t you think a murder committed in beautiful surroundings, seems so much more horrific? It is also presented as a fairly close-knit community back in the 1970s with enough key items from the time as markers but not so many that it feels like a trip into nostalgia. Not that all the action takes place in this setting, we journey to the Outer Hebrides to visit some of Tom’s scary relations and back to South Africa when he returns to visit his beloved aunt for one last time. There is no doubt in my mind that Alison Baillie is not only able to weave a convincing story but is able to make you feel as if you’ve visited the places themselves. Amazing as I have no first-hand knowledge of any of these settings.

There are a wide range of characters in the book, and as there are quite a few the author has managed to keep them distinct and interesting, although in some cases far from likeable and at times I couldn’t help wonder why this beautiful seaside setting hadn’t seen more murders over the years!

First Published UK: 23 July 2015
Publisher: Matador
No of Pages:  377
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

32 thoughts on “Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

  1. I purchased this one after you mentioned that it would be the next in your ‘Put A Book On The Map’ series. Have not started it yet, but the setting is very appealing to me. Plus it contains the Outer Hebrides and I’m rather fascinated by that location. Like you, I love a crime that occurs in the past and then is solved in the present. Can’t wait to read it!

  2. What a great premise for a story, Cleo! Like you, I enjoy books that weave past and present together, And this one sounds as though those links are expertly done. The setting appeals, too. I’m very glad you enjoyed this.

    1. I did enjoy the fact that the reason the murderer hadn’t been discovered earlier was because the wrong man had been convicted of the crime, it added an extra layer thinking about someone who had been incarcerated for all those years despite being innocent. The links were expertly handled indeed.

  3. Factlet 1: My sister lived in Portobello briefly while working in Edinburgh.

    Factlet 2: Way back even before that, when I was just a tiddler, we were on a family holiday in a boarding house in Portobello on the day of the first moon landing – all the guests and the owner’s family crowded round the tiny black & white TV in the guest room to watch…

  4. Sounds like a great find – I agree, stories that bring back the past and tie it to the present are very engaging, especially mysteries and crime stories. Great review – happy reading, Cleo!

  5. I read this book about a month ago and gave it a well-deserved FIVE STARS on Amazon and Goodreads. There’s plenty of tension, the descriptions of people and places carry the story, and as you get near the end you’ll be eager to know the outcome yet sad the book is finished.

  6. By coincidence I have just been reading a book that weaves past and present together though this one is set in a remote part of Wales. You raise a good point about whether a murder is more shocking if it happens in a beautiful part of the world – maybe its because it feels unlikely that anything awful could happen amidst beauty

    1. It was wonderful, it had been on the wishlist for a while after reading some great reviews but as Alison kindly agreed to write the author part of the post for Put A Book on the Map tomorrow I just had to read it sooner rather than later, and I’m so pleased I did. I hope it makes it to the top of your pile soon.

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