Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Seventh Mourner: Review

Moss Magill, Sheriff of Notlaw, Colorado--population 415, if you count two unborn babies; elevation 8,997 feet), finds himself headed to Rowanmuir, Scotland (possibly the last place he ever expected to find his boots and ten gallon hat). His friend Hattie Orchard, a Scotswoman transplanted from the Highlands, has left him $100,000 in her will provided that he travels to her homeland to dispose of her ashes. He must meet up with her other heirs, caravan with them to tote her urn to Inverness, and then to bury her ashes on the top of Bein Biorach (a mountain). Magill is determined to refuse the responsibility and keep his boots safely in Colorado until he hears the rest of the terms of Hattie's will. Hattie left her money to charitable bequests and to several of her relatives and then to Moss and the grandson of the man who wanted to marry her. If the relatives, which includes her sister, her niece and nephew, and her husband's nephew refuse to accept the terms of the will or die, then their share of the inheritance primarily reverts to the charitable bequests...except for her sister Lizzie. Lizzie's $300,000 share would be split by the remaining relatives. It smells suspiciously like an invitation to murder by one or more of the legatees.

And then the Sheriff hears a story about Lizzie being tried for murder, found "Not Proven," and being sent monthly checks by Hattie--checks that have been cashed by a couple with whom Lizzie stays. Why did Hattie never mention her sister? Why doesn't Lizzie cash her own checks? Magill decides that there's too many questions that need answering to stay safely at home as he'd like. So, he packs his bags and takes Hattie on her final journey home to the highlands. Home to where murder and intrigue wait in the Scottish mountains. He may not be ready for what he finds there....and we're pretty sure the Scottish Highlands aren't ready for a western Sheriff. {"Were you in the fillums?"}

The Seventh Mourner (1958) by Dorothy Gardiner is an unusual mystery. The cover has a somewhat sombre, somewhat Gothic look--but the flavor is more comic than mysterious. Following Moss Magill through his adventures in Scotland and discovering the murderer in their midst is more fun than puzzling, more entertaining than mystifying. But it's good solid entertainment and if you are looking for light mystery fare, then this is just the thing. If you don't expect complex plotting and serious sleight-of-hand with clues, then you'll be ready to settle down for a pleasant afternoon's read. ★★ and a half.

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This fulfills the "Tombstone" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

2 comments:

fredamans said...

I'm just not sure it's for me. I feel like I should know this author though...

cmriedel said...

Freda came across this novel when I read it and linked my review last year. This is such an obscure standalone paperback, I wonder if you got it after seeing a post. Unless you owned it, you perhaps glimpsed it at "My Kind Of Mystery" and "100 Books".
http://cmriedel.wordpress.com/reviews-mine/