South Africa, Edinburgh, Outer Hebrides – Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

cover STST

Why a booktrail?

In the seaside suburb of Portobello, Edinburgh, a dark secret from the past hangs over the present


30 years ago, Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. A crime which has cast a shadow over the area and the family ever since. Brother Tom and best friend Sarah in particular have never forgotten that dreadful day when their Shona died and their worlds came crashing down.

Now, modern technology and DNA show that the man who was convicted of killing Shona could not have committed the crime. So who did? And what does this mean for Shona’s friends and family?

Place and setting


Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, the real horror of who killed a young girl all those years ago is revealed, across the years and across continents.

South Africa – Plettenberg Bay

Tom McIver, Shona’s brother returns from South Africa, the very warm and scenic Plettenberg Bay,a coastal village. He thinks back to how he enjoys driving along the scenic garden route, seeing the sky change colour but then is brought back to reality with the “fishy Scottish air”


Scotland -Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides

“Herds of white wild Eriskay ponies wandered freely over the roads, knowing that every car would stop for them. At each house they were welcomed in”

Island life. Tom meets old relatives, delves into his own family history and in particular that of his father as he spends time to scatter his mothers ashes and remember her homeland. This is a rural, windswept place, the silver water of the Eriskay sound and the traditional wooly jumpers. With hills of ancient rock and Eriskay, South Ulst and Barra having remained catholic whilst other islands became protestant, religion tradition and community are important here.

Portobello, Edinburgh

“Portobello had not changed much in the last thirty-seven years: the wide sweep of the bay, the faint distant coastline of Fife and the huge pale sky.”

It’s a return to your childhood haunts, the places you knew linked to your sister and her friends. It’s a visit to your old school, meeting the golden boy of your school day who is now somewhat of a local TV star. Sarah, married to this golden boy becomes involved in the discovery of the truth and she and Tom become close. A small town starts to look in on itself and all that it has thought and known for years has been a lie.

There is still a killer in its midst who has been hiding in plain sight all these years.


This was a cracking debut! Had the pleasure of meeting the author at an event and she is passionate about her work and her debut so I really wanted to read this long before I received it! And I was not disappointed in the slightest as this is a book that not only has  a very strong sense of place but one which uses them to dramatic effect. The small island setting and nostalgic trip back to the past, the horrors of the school reunion and the secrets which come back to haunt.

The plot weaved its way in and out of the present and the past and built up a knot of circumstances and twisted secrets. The characters were people everyone of us knows in some way – so believable and complex. She got me doubting everyone at some point and feeling for their concerns.

The author has had this story in her head for some years now she says and only later thanks to encouragement did she decide to write it. Well, I’m glad she did as this was worth waiting for.

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