Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Review - The Stranger from Home by Frederic Lindsay

Betty Meldrum, escaping the turmoil of her life back in Edinburgh (a turmoil presumably described in previous books in Lindsay’s Jim Meldrum series), is now living in the United States. She shares an apartment in Washington DC, where she quickly forms a bond with one of her flatmates, a sharp-featured blonde in her early thirties. The blonde invites Betty to her wedding in a small town in Texas. It is at this wedding that she meets the eponymous stranger from home: a blue-eyed man with a Scots accent. By page six of the novel they are married.

Betty, it now turns out (although if you were a Frederic Lindsay fan you would already know this) is the daughter of Detective Inspector Jim Meldrum. Meldrum is an Edinburgh cop who even when at home eats his fish and chip suppers with his fingers, straight from the paper wrapping. He lives alone in a mouse-infested garret in a run down area of the city. A place where a man in a heavy cloth coat looks out of place. When his ex-wife phones to tell him of Betty’s marriage Meldrum is bruised at how distant his daughter has grown from him, and yet he seems more concerned with an altercation he sees from his kitchen window. The man in the expensive cloth coat has just brutally attacked a loitering youth. It is this attack, rather than his daughter’s sudden and unexpected marriage, that plays on Meldrum’s mind that night.

Back in the states, the scene has shifted to Phoenix, Arizona. Betty’s new husband (and newcomers to Lindsay’s books) are finding out a little more about her chequered past. But we find out very little about the husband. He is a man of mystery, and no sooner has he arrived in Betty’s life than he has disappeared. The sympathetic woman detective who initially deals with the disappearance is quickly replaced by two male officers, men who may or may not be police officers. The mystery deepens when the woman detective phones Meldrum in Edinburgh to tip him off about the disappearance. ‘Your daughter gets in contact, tell her to come home,’ she says. ‘She’ll be safe at home.’

This is the first Frederic Lindsay book I’ve read. To see my full review, why not pop over to The Bookbag? It's a great site for booklovers!

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