Scottish wit and wisdom via fiction

Flag-3St Andrew’s Day

Where all things Scottish are celebrated and quite rightly so. Scotland has some of the most stunning scenery in the world and is a top tourist destination. There’s the well known and loved Loch Ness Monster, the Edinburgh tattoo, Haggis, bagpipes and of course Tartan.

But what we love is its humour  and its people. And the many gifted writers who love Scotland so much it becomes a feature in many books. Books that highlight and pay homage to much of Scotland’s magic. And the magic time of the Edinburgh book festival! A book pilgrimage for many.

A short tour if we may….


*Discussing the need to rid Scotland of its darker side in Robertson’s Glasgow:

Every one deid is one less bampot on the streets

edinb*Giving an honest appraisal of  a haggis dish:

“I would rather kiss a public latrine that each something of such foul appearance.”

There is some very fine Scottish food (haggis being one example!) such as bridies, stovies and fine venison!

*Debating the history and legacy of Body snatching …FALLS

At the time, most bodies worked on by anatomists were cold indeed. They were brought to Edinburgh from all over Britain — some came by way of the Union Canal. The resurrectionists — body-snatchers — pickled them in whisky for transportation. It was a lucrative trade.”

“But did the whisky get drunk afterwards?”

Devlin chuckled. “Economics would dictate that it did.”

*Experiencing a wedding on the most northernly Shetland island of Unst during Simmer dim?

TAirA single chord played on fiddle and accordion,a breathless moment of silence …This was the hamefarin’

The Simmer dim was the summer dusk. “So far north it never really got dark in in June.”

*Meeting some of Scotland’s folklore..

Whether it’s the Shetland trowes, or the Loch Ness monster and a modern tale of the search for  it, Scotland never fails to capture the imagination.

And there’s the little dog, Grey Friar’s Bobby, who sat by his master’s grave – immortalised in books, film, tv and a statue..

bertie*And who could forget –

Bertie from 44 Scotland street, Edinburgh. Always full of wisdom when either debating the need for a certain plaque :

“No plaque reminds the passer-by of these glories, although there should be one; for those who invent biscuits bring great pleasure to many.”

or just expressing the dreams of a young Scottish lad:

“Life would undoubtedly improve when he turned eighteen and could leave home to go and live somewhere far away and exotic – Glasgow, perhaps”

Best not venture into Robertson’s Glasgow though eh Bertie?

There’s so much Scotland has to offer Bertie – both in literature and for real.

Happy St Andrews Day and happy reading!

When the fictional and non fictional worlds collide

If travel be the food of love, read on…..


Whether you wish to visit a place where an author has set their books, or the places where he or she grew up, then literary travel is for you. From Poldark’s Cornwall to Charles Dickens’ London, there are plenty of places and museums to visit and indulge your senses.

There are places now that I associate with fictional happenings however that I can not see them in a ‘normal’ light now, nor would I want to, for they are the place where I have walked, talked, met, dined and following in the footsteps of my favourite characters.

Fictional stops  – Colombia and France….


ChroicleGarcia Marquez, a giant of Spanish language fiction sets his stories in the fictional town of Macondo thought to be inspired by his real home of Aracataca in Colombia. Having read his novels set there, I only wish it were possible to visit for real (maybe with his magical realism I will be able to one day)

However, it was the village in Chronicle of a Death Foretold where I really wanted to go, in order to run and find Santiago and warn him of what was to come. This novel is set in a small fictional Colombia coastal town but the story was inspired by events in Sucre, Colombia that the author had heard about as a family he and his family knew were involved in similarly chilling events.

Paris  – St Sulpice

da-vinci-code2Just what is the power of fiction? Can fictional worlds and non fictional worlds ever be confused? Well the moment I visited Saint Sulpice I realised that yes they could….

Visitors from all over the world would come here and sit and trace their hands along the Rose line looking for the break where Silas had smashed his way through the floor …. of the hordes of tourists who would sit near the upside down pyramid of the Louvre…

World literature  – books set in iconic settings all over the world really can blur the line between real and fictional worlds. And that’s the best kind of literary travel there is.

Read this sign that the Church had to place inside close to the place where all the Da Vinci fans would go to visit….

Back Camera

Non fictional stops:


Dan Boothby and the Island of dreams

book onePlaces inspired writers and inspire other writers to go there too. Kyleakin Lighthouse, for example in Scotland is the island where Gavin Maxwell once lived. He was the author of  A Ring of Bright Water– a captivating story about his relationship with three otters and the enchanting landscape of the Scottish highlands. Dan Boothby followed him in his footsteps and wrote his own diary of life there and the Maxwell effect……

Food and a love of Iran

Jennifer Klinec is the author of  ‘The Temporary Bride’ in which she details her travels to Iran to learn about the food and the culture there. What she ends up temp bridgediscovering however is much more complex and unexpected entirely..

It’s the a story about love in so many ways – the love of food, the love and respect she has for Iran and a curiosity to get right under the skin of a fascinating country and its people. She is no naive traveller, she is rather a travelling ambassador of sorts who aims to discover the gems that are tucked away in family homes, markets, shops and steeped in tradition.

If books be the food of love….read on…

Travelling can be both hungry and thirsty work, so what better way to indulge your cravings and discover a new cuisine along the way than by picking up a book and delving into its delectable aromas and flavours…


FOOD – Street food in Mumbai

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – Mumbai (Bombay) – India – Vaseem Khan

elephantInspector Ashwin Chopra  is due to retire this very day from the Mumbai police department so he’s not expecting to have any more cases to solve before he goes. But then two mysteries fall right into his lap – luckily not literarily as one of them is a baby elephant. The first mystery however is a drowned little boy whose death is suspicious and who no one seems bothered to solve.

But Chopra is not having any of it, and last day or not, he’s going to get to the bottom of it. So he trawls the city of Mumbai looking for clues –  with a baby elephant named Ganesh as his sidekick..

Foodie kicks

Cuppa and a curry with the author –

This is a  Mumbai which is sweaty, noisy, chaotic, vibrant and teaming with a number of characters and colours. Street food vendors stand on street corner peddaling their wares. The busy, complex aromas of the city are all around, the noise,hustle and bustle of dishes being prepared and tastebuds salvating in readiness for a meal to remember. Chopra his food as a ritual since he has an aversion to ginger – it’s these little quirks that made me picture the man as if he was stood right beside me.

FOOD: Haggis in Edinburgh

edinbThe Strings of Murder – Edinburgh 1888 – Oscar de Muriel

Edinburgh, 1888. A violinist is murdered in his home. In his locked practice room whilst the sound of several musicians played in the night. Who could have got in the room whilst it was locked? And who would want to kill a violinist?

Meanwhile in London, the city is awash with panic over the Ripper murders and so Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey’s new boss, Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense.

Just who or what is crawling the dark dank streets of Edinburgh?

Foodie moments

A cuppa and a cake with the author-

Whoah – this side of Edinburgh is not one you’ll have seen before. It’s not the bustling bright city it is now but one of darkness, the occult, violins played by the devil, a devils sonata and if Inspector Frey is to be believed, bad bad food and even worse weather…

The policeman from the south has trouble finding decent food to eat in the city he says but eventually is told he should try the haggis.Well, if haven’t tried it yet, read this book and then taste it. Go on…

FOOD: Cassoulet from a French villlage

The Fogas Chronicles

Julia Stagg

It’s off to France now to meet Julia Stagg, who brings food into all of her French set novels…


aubergeSet in Fogas, A fictional village  in the French pyrenees, this is a story of an English couple, Paul and Lorna, moving in to a rural French community and trying as best they can to fit in. Fogas is a village you want to happen upon and stay for a while such is its charm despite it being more rural than rural itself –

 There was no shop, no bar and even La Poste had been sensible and placed the commune post office in La Riviere. So apart from the cluster of houses which formed the village and the old communal washbasin with its continually running tap, Fogas was simply the base for the town hall


Foodie moments

In the first book , L’Auberge…

The young English couple have just bought the local Auberge, much to the horror of the locals who fear the English and their cooking in particular.


‘The Auberge has been sold to an outsider’

‘But why is a given that the restaurant will fail just because they are foreigners?’ demanded Christian

‘Because,’ Pascal relied in his lofty manner, ‘the new owners are English!’

Then the adventures continue with The French Postmistress, the Parisians return and a Fete to remember….

A French village offers baguettes, cheese and good old fashioned local grub. Ah the antics of these people will make you laugh but it’s the local cuisine, the French way of eating and the mountain setting which will have you salvating over French fayre. The books all feature the famous French dish of Cassoulet and ah you just have to try it! Julia Stagg the author used to work in a French auberge and so her observations on the food and drink of a French village are spot on.

So whether you are hungry for food in Mumbai, want to try some haggis in Scotland or eat the best Cassoulet this side of the Pyrenees, just pick up one of these three books and tuck in.

Bon appetit!

Scottish banter with Alison Baillie – Debut author spotlight

A baillie

On the booktrail sofa today is debut author Alison Baillie. Why do we rate this lady? She writes a cracking crime mystery and she’s a lovely person to boot. We met at a literary event and her passion for her writing and her book was plain to see. Oh how we chatted and drank tea! Now we’ve had to keep a lid on this cuppa and cake as we could talk for hours.

Her book Sewing the Shadows takes us to Edinburgh, Africa and the Outer Hebrides… Hi Alison. Here, have a piece of cake and let’s chat books!

Why did you choose the three locations you have in your novel and what does each of the settings mean to you?

My mother is from Portobello and we always spent my holidays at my grandparents’ house there. It is a very special place for me, tied up with memories of my childhood and also of the time when my sons were young. We were living in Edinburgh then, but we went down to Portobello every weekend to visit my grandmother and run on the beach, whatever the weather. After university I did my teacher training at Moray House in Edinburgh and then was lucky enough to get a job teaching English at Portobello High School. I lived in Edinburgh for the next 20 years, my sons were born there and for me it is the most beautiful city in the world. I go back there as often as I can and would definitely live there if I could.

Erisky Beach -(c) Alison Baillie
Erisky Beach -(c) Alison Baillie

I based the part in the Outer Hebrides on a very poignant trip I made with a friend of mine, whose family is from South Uist, to scatter her husband’s ashes. The part set in Eriskay and South Uist is very closely based on reality and my friend has a lovely auntie like Mary Agnes that we stayed with. Afterwards we drove to Harris and Lewis. The weather and atmosphere changed and I can still remember the impressive stark beauty of the Callenish Stones against the glowering clouds of the sky. The whole section set in Lewis is completely imaginary but based on what I felt there..

Plettenberg Bay is a really beautiful beach on the Garden Route in South Africa. I have a friend who has a house there and I have been lucky enough to visit four times now. I wrote quite a bit of the book there (as there was no internet and no distractions) and hope I have captured the beauty of the place. Actually when I started the book I had Tom and family going to Australia, a place I’ve visited only once and really liked but don’t know very well. It was only when I was in Plettenberg Bay that it occurred to me that this was a place I knew much better that would fit in well in the book.

Can you explain the title?

Sewing shadowsThe title comes from the poem Bat by DH Lawrence, which is reprinted at the beginning of the book. I remember reading this poem when I was about thirteen with a young inspirational English teacher, who bears some similarities to HJ Kidd (only the nice bits of his character). It made a big impression on me then and when I was writing the book and looking for a title it suddenly came back to me. As the theme of the poem is the difference between appearance and reality (the swallows flying round the Ponte Vecchio in the dusk in Florence turn out to be bats) it is very appropriate to the theme of the book and the title could also suggest making sense of some traumas of the past. Also I just love the sound of the words.

Have you ever attended a school reunion? Why did you choose this as a major setting?

I did attend a school reunion about ten years ago, and it is the basis for the reunion scene in the book. I actually went to Ilkley Grammar School in Yorkshire, but I’ve transferred the scene to Scotland. My charismatic old English teacher was there and it was wonderfully organised by a dear old school friend (who doesn’t bear any resemblance to the annoying Patsy). I thought then that this would be the perfect way to get all my main characters in the same place at the same time at the beginning of the book. It was also the 400th anniversary of my school’s foundation and we had a trip round the new school with my old English teacher, a scene which I have also used in Sewing the Shadows Together.

How secrets destroy families is a complex web of intrigue. What kind of research did you do into this area?

I didn’t really do any formal research. It was more as a result of several high profile murders which took place when I was teaching in Edinburgh; I began to empathise with the families and wonder how young people, the age of the students I was teaching, would be affected by tragedies like these. Since then, I’ve often been surprised by people around me – even the most perfect families on the surface were full of secrets and conflicts which were only revealed once you scratched the surface.

Were you inspired by stories of innocent people convicted of a crime in the news?

Oh, yes. I became very interested in stories of miscarriages of justice and read several books, read hundreds of internet articles and followed many campaigns. I was horrified by the way so many people’s lives had been ruined, often on the flimsiest of evidence.

And with that, Alison and I decide to have more coffee and cake and chat about Scotland since it’s a country close to both our hearts and well, talk books too as you can never talk enough about books can you?

Alison Baillie:

Twitter: @alisonbailliex

Facebook: /alisonbaillieauthor


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.

Writing about the Island of Dreams – Dan Boothby

Author of Island of Dreams Dan Boothby popped into Booktrail towers today as I wanted to know what led him to do the ultimate booktrail – to go to the island where Gavin Maxwell once lived. Gavin Maxwell wrote  A Ring of Bright Water – a captivating story about his relationship with three otters and the enchanting landscape of the Scottish highlands.

Dan Boothby
Dan Boothby

Following in his inspiring footsteps, Dan Boothby spent time on Maxwell’s island of Eilean Ban and wanted to write about his experiences. The result- 
Booktrail to the Island of Dreams

but how did he get there?

Getting Into Print Ain’t Easy.

I left the island in November 2007. And drifted. I went sailing a lot – working as delivery crew on yachts all over the world; eking out savings by wintering in India, Malaysia, Thailand; working now and again at Tŷ Newydd – a writers’ retreat in North Wales: cooking, cleaning, a lot of washing up – pandering to poets and students of various genres of writing.

And writing sometimes about the island and what the experience had meant to me. And, through the writing, figuring out – in an unconscious, subconscious way – what it was about Gavin Maxwell and the Highlands that had so obsessed me from boyhood.


I wrote other stuff, tried to write a ‘comic’ novel set in Morocco and, because I couldn’t get the island book to work (early drafts were too ‘lyrical’, with far too much nature writing and not enough bridging passages), I put it away from me and turned my back on wanting to be ‘a writer’, hated writers (those liars!) and writing in general.

Then, in December 2011, in Malacca in Malaysia, bored and looking through my laptop for something to do, something to work on, something to write, I looked again at Island of Dreams and thought, It’s almost there. . .

For some reason I decided to decamp to Krabi in Thailand, where I checked into the cheapest room in a hotel in the centre of town (it was one of two rooms at the top of the building. I think the other (these were more like cells really) was used for, ahem, short-time occupancy, judging by the noises coming through the wall.) I wasn’t interested in my surroundings, in the comings and goings of the Thais and the tourists and expats and the strange, symbiotic, cynical relationship the Thais and the tourists have, and so could get into a daily routine.

I wrote and rewrote and edited. I returned to the UK in February 2012, did a final line-by-line edit and then started sending ‘3 chapters and a covering letter’ to agents and publishers. I figured it would be a numbers game. I got an agent that October. The day after he agreed to take me on, I got another two rejection letters from agents. It makes you laugh in the end.

The agent had my book for two years and couldn’t interest a publisher in it. So, frustrated, I said goodbye to the agent in October 2014 and send out another nine submissions to publishers. I hooked one. Or to be precise – I hooked five, within the space of three weeks.

Odd. And wonderful.

If you want to make it as a writer, get a thick skin and understand well – none of this is personal. It’s about timing and luck as much as quality of writing. And connecting with the right editor for your work.

Thanks to Dan for his words of wisdom. The Island of Dreams is out now!

Twitter – @danrboothby

Web –

Kyle of Lochalsh – Dan Boothby -Island of Dreams


Why a booktrail?

Opportunity comes in the form of a tiny island in the Scottish Highlands

Story in a nutshell

Dan Boothby had been searching for the perfect place for years. He had no ties, family or possessions to speak of but just wanted the perfect place to land. The only thing he did feel connected to in a way was the book Ring of Bright Water Trilogy by Gavin Maxwell. When he got the chance to move to Maxwell’s former home on the tiny island in the Kyle of Lochalsh,he jumps at the chance.

He sets up home in the Kyleakin Lighthouse, the last home of the author and then he sets about creating his own story as he attempts to better understand the mysterious Gavin Maxwell.

Place and setting


Kyleakin Island and its Lighthouse Where the author Gavin Maxwell last lived and where Dan now moves to Skye Bridge The controversial bridge which links the mainland to the island with “steel and concrete” Kyleakin, Isle of Skye The Brightwater Visitor Centre is the place to visit
Kyleakin Island and its Lighthouse
Where the author Gavin Maxwell last lived and where Dan now moves to
Skye Bridge
The controversial bridge which links the mainland to the island with “steel and concrete”
Kyleakin, Isle of Skye
The Brightwater Visitor Centre is the place to visit

Eilean Bàn

Following the sites of your favourite author’s book? Going to see where he lived and wrote? Sounds like a booktrailer to us. But going to live in the lighthouse where the author last lived? Now that is dedication.

Reading about Maxwell’s adventures, I hankered after the life he described in the books: the romance of mountain, sea and rock, vivid colour and violent sky

Ring of Bright Water was the iconic book that detailed Gavin Maxwell’s first ten years  on the island and his experience of living in the remote but wildlife rich island of  Eilean Bàn.  He went to live in an abandoned home on a shingle beach and settled there with only the otters for company

The landscape is the main characters here from the seasons, to the Gaelic personalities each of them have (Skye is known as the Misty Isle)

Richly evocative of life – the island is awash with it and alive with sound. The wildlife of course is the main feature – from the otters, to the oystercatchers they become Gavin’s community.

There at last, at the mouth of Lock Alsh, sitting beneath the sleek , grey stretch of the Skye Bridge, The tiny lighthouse island. The windows of the cottage wink, the Cuillin mountains rise massive and disinterested behind.

The people – “the Wednesday work crew” are those who live off the island but who come each Wednesday to do what they can to keep things tidy and the plant life in order, particularly as it grows so fast they can barely keep up in the summer months. Each place has Maxwell’s footprints on it and the lighthouse has other literary links to it as well!

Further afield is the pilgrimage haunt  The remoteness and beauty of Camusfearna, the place called Sandaig near Glenelg which he also immortalised in his books.

Take the walk here –

This is the landscape of Gavin Maxwell and his ghosts but also a personal literary pilgrimage to Dan Boothby’s own story and a homage of love and devotion he gives to the very special island in his heart.

Visit Dan here –

Web –

Twitter – @danrboothby

Glasgow – Witness the Dead – Craig Robertson


Why a booktrail?

Glasgow 1972 and a serial killer is haunting the city’s nightclubs. Years later, is there a copy cat murderer on the loose?

Story in a nutshell

Scotland 1972.

A serial killer by the name of Red Silk haunts the city’s nightclubs. The police suspect and Archibald Atto, later imprisoned for other murders, and think they have got their man.

Modern day

DS Rachel Narey is called to a gruesome crime scene at the city’s Necropolis. Former detective Danny Neilson spots similarities between the new murder and those he investigated in 1972 – but Atto is still behind bars so who is terrorizing Glasgow now?

Glasgow is the setting the main character and the scene of fear from 1970s across the years.

Place and setting

 The Necropolis 70 Cathedral Square The scene of death in more ways than one Eastern Necropolis - Janefield Street The site of another cemetery Western Necropolis A body is found here at first light Celtic park football club Memories flooded back of dodgy pies from the stalls in the top corner near the Celtic end West Nile Street Where the figure at the start is headed to, an area of clubs and shops

The Necropolis
70 Cathedral Square
The scene of death in more ways than one
Eastern Necropolis – Janefield Street
The site of another cemetery
Western Necropolis
A body is found here at first light
Celtic park football club
Memories flooded back of dodgy pies from the stalls in the top corner near the Celtic end
West Nile Street
Where the figure at the start is headed to, an area of clubs and shops

1970s Glasgow

Blimey this is not the Glasgow you would have wanted to visit. The nightclubs of the city are being stalked by a man known as Red Silk and several woman were murdered in a particularly gruesome way.

Elsewhere however this is a city built on nostalgia and flares, the era of the Thomas Crown Affair, T Rex and Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. It’s as if this book comes with a song list to fully immerse you in time and place.

There is even a club having a Be Red Silk night in the twisted hope that the killer might be attracted to attend. Fear is endemic and the city is scared –

Glasgow seems to have become split into those who though everything was okay because Red Silk hadn’t struck for three weeks and those who were al the more terrified because he still hadn’t been caught.

Modern Day Glasgow

They called it the City of the Dead. The Sprawling Gothic landscape that perched over Glasgow and contained the remains of fifty thousand lost souls. Now it held fifth thousand and one

Glasgow’s Northern Necropolis, is the scene of the opening crime – a woman dead with the word ‘SIN’ scrawled across her body in red lipstick. Another body appears the next day.

Historic crime returning? Or is Atto simply playing a game of mental chess. the relationship or ‘ bond’ that he and Winter seem to share over images of death is creepy and disturbing. The streets of Glasgow blend with those of the past and the nightclub scene is still as vibrant as ever. It’s the cemeteries and scenes of death which dominate however as well as the gallows humour

It’s the Gorbals fucking Vampire all over again

Bookish musings

Gallows humour and a cemetery tour of Glasgow, an insight into the bowels of the city? I can honestly say this is a cracking read for the sheer realistic tone and portrayal of many of Glasgow’s sights and streets.

I’ve learned several new words since reading Craig Robertson and can say that this book is grim , yes but the gallows humour really made it stand out. Cemeteries are eerie places at the best of times but the dual time line story make them all the more so by linking past and present death.

The verdict?  A Gallus  read 😉

Redemption Road – Scottish Highlands to Penzance – Lisa Ballantyne

redemption road

Why a booktrail ?

A gritty read about the bonds between parent and child and the threads which can unravel as well as bound us together. From the tip of Scotland to the southern most point of the British Isles

Story in a nutshell

A story of questions and right and wrong

Margaret, a school teacher, is rescued from a burning car. Who was the scared stranger who rescued her and then ran off?

Her life has been full of secrets and she’s determined not to let this be another one. She has to find the man who rescued her in more ways than one.

Meanwhile up in Scotland, a young girl has been abducted and local reporter Angus is keen to find out more. His investigations take him to some dark places and he is soon on the trail of something much bigger.

Over in Glasgow, George belongs to a notorious gangster family. George is looking for a better life and to escape the mistakes of the past.

Three very different lives about to clash.

Place and setting

Thurso - the river Big George feels taller here than he does in Glasgow and feels as if he is dressed wrong and that everyone speaks funny here. Molly and her family live here. Rose Street Where Molly and her family live Dounreay The (in)famous nuclear plant which stands just outside of Thurso and is where Molly’s stepfather works Wick The newspaper offices are here where Angus files his story on the missing school girl Glasgow - Glasgow Park Where George goes to propose to Kat
Thurso – the river
Big George feels taller here than he does in Glasgow and feels as if he is dressed wrong and that everyone speaks funny here. Molly and her family live here.
Rose Street
Where Molly and her family live
The (in)famous nuclear plant which stands just outside of Thurso and is where Molly’s stepfather works
The newspaper offices are here where Angus files his story on the missing school girl
Glasgow – Glasgow Park
Where George goes to propose to Kat

The story has three main settings – London, Glasgow and Wick in the Scottish Highlands where the threads of the story start separately. We move back and forward in time to see the build up to current day events.


Where the novel opens and where the main action of the novel takes place. Margaret is driving along Willis Street when we meet her. But it’s then that the accident happens on the M11 and she’s taken to the Royal London Hospital.

Margaret’s story unfolds her and her story is a search which takes her across London in search of that scarred man who found her. She wants to know more about him and her childhood which has always been a mystery.

Scotland – Glasgow and Thurso

The main setting of the story – George is part of a crime family which harasses the city of Glasgow. He’s easy to like as he’s a rogue rather than a hardened criminal. But the weak link in a gangster chain is vulnerable and when something doesn’t go to plan, events turn sinister and his life spirals down a new and dangerous path.

This is Glasgow circa 1985 where you still need coins to operate a call box, and where the life of a criminal is both violent and not for the faint hearted!


Meanwhile there is a keen journalist, Angus, on the search of his biggest story yet and when he discovers the story of a missing little girl, he thinks he spots something which needs further investigation. He’s  a Scottish lad through and through – hardy – as was brought up in North Bay on the Isle of Barra (Isle of Hebrides) When he visits the parents of abducted Molly Kathleen and John, his curiosity is peaked.

Booktrail review – Clare

Two, well three different stories where the threads become even more entangled and although you can more or less tell where they are going, it’s still a good ride to get there.

Three people with three very different backgrounds and goals in life, from Scotland to Penzance makes for a story which builds from the 1970s to the present day and jumps from one location to another but these threads get tighter until a picture forms.

Margaret’s story of her rescue by the scarred man was intriguing and I was keen to know what happened here. George I felt less for since he was from a criminal family but it was still interesting to see why he did what he did.

The flaws present in all of us and the will to carry on is strong and this was an interesting way to examine those thoughts. Characters are not black and white and I enjoyed reading the three very different opinions of Margaret, George and Angus.

I was very keen to find out like Margaret who the scarred man was and made for a nice twist!