Murder in a Scottish Garden by Traci Hall

Title: Murder in a Scottish Garden (Scottish Shire Mystery #1)

Author: Traci Hall

Published on: 25 May 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Murder in a Scottish Garden is the second book in Traci Hall’s Scottish Shire Mystery series.

In the charming Scottish shire of Nairn, Paislee Shaw, a single mum, owns a sweater and yarn shop. The shop is the only means of support not only for Paislee but also for her ten-year old son Brody, her cranky grandpa and a Scottish terrier named Wallace.

When the landlord, Shawn Marcus, a wealthy heir to the Leery estate gives Paislee and the rest of the shopkeepers a 30-day eviction notice, Paislee tries to talk to him. But he’s done a disappearing act. He does not respond to letters or phone calls.

Paislee is tagging along with her son and his classmates on a field trip. They are to visit the newly made sculpture at the center of the Leery estate’s maze garden. Before entering the maze, one of the students has an emergency toilet break and Paislee takes her to the portaloos. She hears a rustling sound and a man falls out of the hedges. This was preceded by a faint muffled sound – a gunshot. The gardener at the estate and the tour guide rush over to help the injured man. But it is too late.

At first, Paislee thought the victim was Shawn. But she overhears the gardener say it is Charles, Shawn’s nephew. The gruffy new DI of Nairn, Mack Zeffer is on the case. He and Paislee have a love-hate relationship – thanks to her involvement in a case months ago. He warns her to keep out of investigation this time. But time is running out for Paislee. With just 5 days to go for eviction, she must talk to Shawn… and that won’t happen until she finds the mystery behind Charles’ murder.

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Murder in a Scottish Garden by Traci Hall is another fantastic addition to the series. I love everra-thing aboot this book – from the setting to the characters to the Scottish lilt and the mystery. Love it verra much. 🙂

Having read a lot of cozy mysteries set in either the US or a quaint English village, this book is a refreshing change of scenery. Paislee is just twenty-eight. She fell pregnant at eighteen and did not take any help from the baby’s father. She decided to raise her son on her own. She had her grandma by her side. Her grandparents broke up years ago when her gran learned of grandpa’s other family – a son and a wife. Gran died five years ago and since then, it was just Paislee and her son, Brody.

In the first book, we saw Paislee invite her grandpa to stay with them. He was found sleeping in the local park and was arrested by Detective Zeffer. Grandpa helps Paislee at the shop and also babysits Brody when Paislee has knitting club nights or is out sleuthing.

When Paislee sees Charles die in the Leery estate, she’s worried. The estate was supposed to be safe – and the school children were there for a field trip. Things take a turn for worse when Holly’s parents sue the school and Paislee for locking their daughter in the portaloo. Holly was in the portaloo when Charles was shot. Paislee did not allow Holly to come out of the loo until the ambulance arrived. She didn’t want the young girl to witness a murder or see a dead body. But now, Paislee is at the receiving end of a lawsuit. To add to her woes, Hamish, the school headmaster and Paislee’s friend (they grew close recently and Paislee thought they might have a future together), is not ready to help her.

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Coming to the murder mystery and the reason for killing Charles, we have a lot of dark secrets in the Leery family. Shannon, Lady Leery, is known for her ‘string of ‘infamous’ lovers. She had a daughter from one such love affairs – this was kept secret until two years ago. The girl now heads the Leery charity foundation. Shawn looks very sick and is always unavailable.

Lydia, a real estate agent and Paislee’s best friend since school, invites her to an award function that happens four days after the shooting incident. The venue is Leery estate so Paislee does not want to miss a chance sleuthing. She gets to talk to Shawn, all right. But this opens a can of worms – and the list of suspects is up by a notch.

The suspense kept me guessing till the end. The side stories of recurring characters and that of Paislee’s personal life added a dash of charm to already-engrossing read. The mystery behind the murder was much more than the usual tropes (jealousy, money, etc).

Excellent storytelling. Likeable characters. Lovely setting (both Nairn and the Leery estate). A mystery to keep one guessing till the end. Unexpected and shocking ending – something to do with the killer’s identity and their reason for killing Charles. Last but not the least, a shocking twist at the end.

If you are looking for an entertaining, engrossing and charming cozy mystery set in a Scottish shire, I recommend you to give Murder in a Scottish Garden by Traci Hall a try.


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