#BookReview #TheBooksellerOfInverness SG McLean @SGMacleanauthor @QuercusBooks

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on SG McLean’s, The Bookseller of Inverness.

Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:

After Culloden, Iain MacGillivray was left for dead on Drumossie Moor. Wounded, his face brutally slashed, he survived only by pretending to be dead as the Redcoats patrolled the corpses of his Jacobite comrades.

Six years later, with the clan chiefs routed and the Highlands subsumed into the British state, Iain lives a quiet life, working as a bookseller in Inverness. One day, after helping several of his regular customers, he notices a stranger lurking in the upper gallery of his shop, poring over his collection. But the man refuses to say what he’s searching for and only leaves when Iain closes for the night.

The next morning Iain opens up shop and finds the stranger dead, his throat cut, and the murder weapon laid out in front of him – a sword with a white cockade on its hilt, the emblem of the Jacobites. With no sign of the killer, Iain wonders whether the stranger discovered what he was looking for – and whether he paid for it with his life. He soon finds himself embroiled in a web of deceit and a series of old scores to be settled in the ashes of war.

My thoughts

Now I’m not a great reader of historical crime fiction, however, I’d been asked to interview SG McLean as a part of a book festival earlier this year (The Wee Crime Festival in Grantown on Spey, if you ever get a chance to go, then you really don’t want to miss it!) so I delved into her latest novel, The Bookseller of Inverness, not quite sure of what to expect.

Let me just say one thing, this book changed everything I ever thought about historical fiction and then some! I was sucked right in and spat out the other end as a complete convert! I’d always thought of historical fiction as being a little bit dry and perhaps a little bit tame for me. Boy was I wrong, SG McLean effortlessly brought the era of the Jacobite rebellions to life and it wasn’t all war and battlefields; the heart of this story was about people, about culture, society and relationships.  Taking place in the aftermath of Culloden, we are introduced to a whole host of characters. This could easily have become confusing but strangely enough I felt as though I got to know them all quite well, she breathed life into them until they stepped off the page. Iain MacGillivray, the Bookseller in question, was an intriguing character, a quiet brooding man who is trying to find solace after being left for dead on Drumossie Moor but when he finds a strange man dead in his bookshop he is faced with shadows of his past as he hunts for the missing book which he believes will expose the killer.

MacGillivray is supported by an excellent cast of characters, in particular his grandmother and the Grand Dames, Donald the drunken bookbinder and Ishbel, the confectioner and her young charge, Tormad all stole my heart a little bit.

It’s perfectly paced with all the elements of a good thriller, strong characterisation, tension seeping through the pages, outstanding sense of time and place; tangled relationships, deceit and at times quite brutal, please don’t be mistaken and think this is some staid, slow read!

This was way more than a historical crime thriller, it was a vivid and sometimes brutal exploration of 18th century Inverness in the aftermath of Culloden, it taught me so much without ever making me feel as though I was being lectured to; vivid descriptions invoked all of my senses and brought history to life for me. I will admit that my knowledge of this era is sketchy to say the least but I can say one thing, if this book had been part of the curriculum for history when I was at school, I’d have been hooked!

So, if you think historical fiction isn’t quite your thing, I’d urge you to think again and go pick up a copy of this book asap!

You can purchase a copy via

Waterstones and all other bookshops



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.