When a storm in wrecked on a rocky Highland coast in a wild night, Charlie MacIan drags a drowning seaman out of the pounding waves. The seaman is clinging to a wooden chest. Brought into shelter, he is found to be dead but was his death accidental? And did the chest once contain money? These questions hang like a threat over the various members ...
When a storm in wrecked on a rocky Highland coast in a wild night, Charlie MacIan drags a drowning seaman out of the pounding waves. The seaman is clinging to a wooden chest. Brought into shelter, he is found to be dead but was his death accidental? And did the chest once contain money? These questions hang like a threat over the various members of a small community struggling to keep life going on a hard, relentless coast. It is a mystery in which Neil Gunn displays his skills as a writer of depth and subtlety and we emerge from the tale asking questions about the nature and meaning of community itself, and how it can survive in a bewildering and violent modernity."
Publishers Weekly, 1988-09-16 Set in a remote Scottish fishing village at the turn of the century, this richly textured novel quickly involves the reader in a baffling mystery. Dougald MacIan informs the local authorities that his brother Charlie tried in vain to rescue a shipwrecked seaman. The sailor's body and his small wooden chest, still locked, are in the brothers' isolated cottage. Suspicion of murder and robbery falls upon both brothers when it is found that the seaman was strangled, and that the reclusive, enigmatic, and impoverished MacIans are now spending money in a reckless fashion. The local gentry, including a young, self-indulgent landholder, his scholarly guest and the area's intuitive and compassionate doctor, have more than a casual interest in the two brothers. The landowner has fallen in love with the minister's daughter, Flora, who was once scandalously involved with Charlie when they were both students at Edinburgh. The villagers are electrified by news of the strangling and by rumors of Charlie and Flora's renewed romance, and many have complex motives of their own for wanting to affix blame and guilt. The mystery is virtually abandoned as the author establishes the psychological motivations of the characters in this thickly romantic and melodramatic tale. Gunn ( Blood Hunt ) died in 1973; this is the second of his works to be published here. (Oct.)
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