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A Small Death in the Great Glen
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A Small Death in the Great Glen (Joanne Ross #1)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  620 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Both probing character study and a driving novel of suspense, here is a novel that will linger in your mind like mist over the Scottish glens . . .In the Highlands of 1950s Scotland, a boy is found dead in a canal lock. Two young girls tell such a fanciful story of his disappearance that no one believes them. The local newspaper staff—including Joanne Ross, the part-time t ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Atria Books (first published 2010)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Pearl Ruled (chapter 10)

Horrible. I got through chapter 10 by dint of sheer will. Bad writing, predictable plotting, and nothing redeeming about it. It gets one star because it is, after all, a book. Save yourself the misery: Avoid.

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I'm giving this one a 3, but it is really more a 2.5. However 2 is for a book I don't like and I did enjoy some parts of this one.
First the langage was a bit difficult. Now while they speak English, there are bits of slang and terms that I didn't know and many of them aren't explained. That made for some rough reading. I've read other books that can giver the language and flavor of a place while still being very readable.
There seem to be too many characters so that none of them are really devel
Busy. If I had to pick one word to describe Scott's debut, it might be "busy." As in too much going on. As in trying to do too much. She gets top marks for an amazing number of interesting characters and for their development, as well as for her ability to evoke a solid sense of Scotland in the 1950s. The main plot is extremely interesting, but an abundance of secondary and even tertiary story lines cause the pacing of the book to suffer and creates an overall inconsistency in the final result. ...more
This is quite an immersion into a small Highlands town in 1956, where the circumstances of the boy's death are only a small part of the picture. There's the hidden xenophobia which goes beyond the expected "if you're not third generation, you're a newcomer" prejudice against both foreigners and the Travellers (tinkers), the struggles of a new (and Glaswegian!) editor to bring the local paper up into at least the late 19th century, the blindness to domestic abuse, and Joanne's balance between the ...more
This is the first of the series. I did read the second book first. Like Ian Rankin, A.D. Scott's crime/mystery stories are about much more than the plot itself. The story takes place in a tiny town in the Scottish Highlands, far from Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1957. Joanne Ross is a young mother working at the local weekly paper, first as a secretary but slowly beginning to write stories as well, much to her abusive husband's disdain. The newspaper itself is going through a transformation as well, ...more
Nancy Oakes
Aug 23, 2010 Nancy Oakes rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cozy mystery readers
Shelves: crime-fiction-uk
I received this book as an ARC from Simon and Schuster, so I send my thanks to them for sending it to me. I only wish I had liked it more.

I am a UK mystery/fiction/literature addict so whenever something new comes out from there, I tend to get a little excited. This time I was more surprised than anything once I started to read.

Basically the story (which is the first of a series) centers around the staff of the Highland Gazette in 1956. A small boy goes missing and is later found in the canal.
I don't particularly like the 1950's, so I didn't expect to be able to read and enjoy this novel. I liked the Scottish cultural content and I admired the inner strength of the female protagonist, Joanne Ross. It's odd to have a protagonist who is not the detective and who doesn't investigate the case when the book is a mystery. The actual investigator of the case is a reporter at the newspaper where she works. The problems with prejudice in this small Scottish town reminded me of a similar small ...more
Dec 01, 2012 Phoebe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lisa
Scott's leisurely novel is a mystery, but she approaches the genre through the careful development of characters and setting. The authentic flavor is charming, with phrases and description that may be unfamiliar to anyone who is not Scottish, and details like holiday preparations are fascinating. But be warned that this is not a cozy village whodunit. The mystery revolves around the apparent drowning of a frail 8 year old boy, who disappears one night, taken up by a terrifying "hoodie crow" in t ...more
Paul Pessolano
In the 1950's in a small town in the Scottish Highlands a young child is found dead in a canal. At first everyone thought it was an accident until a young girl tells the story of his being snatched by the "hoodie crow". It is then that they find that the child not only was murdered, but that he was also interfered (molested). The two main suspects in the case is a Polish seaman who has jumped ship and is being harbored by the "tinkers" (gypsies), and a Catholic priest whose background has been i ...more
A first novel from A D Scott. I was unfortunately disappointed. It had many elements that I was interested in, even associated with – the Scottish 1950’s. But as a whole, I felt the book failed. I found that it tried to be too Scottish, bringing out every possible bad stereotype of 1950’s Scottish life and emphasizing them. Yes, it wasn’t the 21st century, but I felt that the elements as described just didn’t sit as a natural entity. And while trying to be 1956, the book ending up bringing in to ...more
This is a Goodread win, and I must say one of the best I have received. The story takes place in a small town in Scotland. At times it seems there are to many characters involved, but after a while, it is easy to keep track, and of their story lines.
This is not just a murder mystery, but about how the town interacts and how they live their lives. Other than a few Scottish words, this could be any town.
I would not call the ending a surprise, but it is different than your usual story.
I liked the w
A Small Death in Great Glen by A.D. Scott was suspenceful and riveting. You might have difficulty with some of the Scottish expressions used, you can however figure it out. The child's death in the Highlands of the 50's gives you a look into that world.
there are lots of characters that you can easily follow. Secrets, disbelief in what the children say they saw, the lives and problems of the characters are all there. The death has roots in the past. I plan to read the next book and hope it is ju
Oswego Public Library District
This absorbing mystery immerses you right into its setting and plot and doesn’t let go. Set in a Scottish Highlands town in the 1950s, we meet the staff of the local newspaper, who primarily concentrates on local festivals, auctions and obituaries, but a shocking murder of a local boy sets the staff on edge and looking for clues. Newly hired editor John McAllister hopes solving this case will bring the newspaper more credentials and with the help of eager new reporter Rob McLean and part-time ty ...more
The three things I liked about this book. The characters were well-developed, the vivid depictions of Scotland in the 1950s, and some good plot twists. Two things that kept me from giving it 5 stars: sometimes characters had a 21st century perspective on social issues that did not fit well on characters in 1950s Scotland and some situations were resolved a little too easily to be realistic. I did pay it the highest compliment I can, which is that I stayed up late to find out the ending.

When trying to figure out if Low Road was part of a series (and if yes what number) I found that there were two names for the series. On A.D. Scott's website she calls the series The Highland Gazette mysteries after the newspaper publication where five of the main characters work. Most other book sites call this series Joanne Ross after one of the characters in the novel. While we do get more details on Joanne in the first book, I am with Scott and like to refer to the series as The Highl
It's so nice to find a new series! A Small Death in the Great Glen is set in 1950s Scotland. A.D. Scott's debut is fairly dense and full of characters. Sometimes keeping them straight can be difficult. But the protagonists are likeable and three-dimensional. Scott explores the social mores of the time and the distrust of outsiders, all while weaving a fairly canny mystery. Looking forward to reading more!
Set in 1950s in the Highlands of Scotland, with a brief foray to Glasgow's east end, I enjoyed the mystery/crime aspect of this book as well as the authentic language, atmosphere and attitudes of those days. The book has some very likeable characters and I look forward to meeting them again in the next book in this series.
Lisa Wolf
At once a murder mystery and a peek into life in a small village in the Scottish Highlands, A Small Death in the Great Glen is a wonderful read in terms of plot and characters. I'd recommend it both for mystery fans and for those who love books set in Scotland. See my review at
Slow moving storyline. It's tea and more tea. The characters flip and flop here and there, distracting and hard to follow. So bummed because I like the references to Scotland and the everyday language as well as activities.
It's always fun to read a new author and then discover the book is part of a series.

Mid-century Scottish Highlands. Still recovering from the effects of the Second World War. A small town weekly newspaper is staffed by a mix of old timers, fresh young enthusiastic reporters, jaded Glaswegians transferred north, and a woman typist who occasionally shows up for work with a black eye and bruises.

A wee boy is found drowned in the canal and a Polish illegal immigrant is arrested for the crime. He ha
This book is superbly written. The setting in the Highlands is superbly detailed and the characters are painstakingly drawn. The resolution is both surprising and very satisfying.
Peggy Ritchey
I read this book for our mystery book club and liked it. It is set in Scotland in the 1950's. A small newspaper staff in a small town investigates the murder of young boy. I don't really like books in which small children are abused and murdered but there were no details so that was helpful. I really enjoyed the setting and the characters. None of the newspaper staff characters seemed to be stereotypes. I have since read the 2nd and 3rd books in the series and liked those even better since the m ...more
A Small Death in the Great Glen is set in village the highlands of Scotland. The time is 1956. A small boy has gone missing on his walk home from school. His body is later found in the canal and it is determined that he was interfered with.

The main characters of the book work for the Highland Gazette. It is a weekly newspaper dealing mainly with ads and light village events. The new editor in chief wants to change the newspaper to a more relevant and hard hitting paper. There is a sub editor who
Queenie Francie
well... first of all, i am listening to this book on audio. it was quite a few days before i could adapt to the readers' cadence of speech and the odd language usage and accent (for an American English reader). i actually had to go online and search for 'hoodie crow', a phrase that was totally incomprehensible when spoken by the audiobook reader (sounded like howdy-craow). that being said, the character of Joanne Ross is not very likable, but i'm trying to like her. i can't stand her oldest daug ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Marfita rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marfita by: someone on Second Life at the Cozy Mystery Discussion
Shelves: cozies
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Kelly
The plot of this story is the murder of a little boy in this small Scottish community and who may have done it. There is a lot of speculation but not real clues. The main character of the story is Joanne Ross who is a wife and mother and works at the local newspaper, Highland Gazette. Her two daughters were playing with the murdered boy one afternoon. They would run up to a house and ring the doorbell and run. They were at a particular house and the little boy did this but didn't run in time as ...more
Marcy Skala
Apr 02, 2012 Marcy Skala rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marcy by: EBMRG
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not sure how I feel about this book. Just finished it last night, and will have to think about it for a bit. I did enjoy the characters-so will definitely read the next book in the series. I do agree with other reviewers that it was sometimes difficult to decipher the Scottish "slang".

"In the Highlands of 1950s Scotland, a boy is found dead in a canal lock. Two young girls tell such a fanciful story of his disappearance that no one believes them. The local newspaper staff—including Joanne Ross,
Since I enjoyed the 2nd in this series so much I was pleased to find the first one available. In an area where there are unprotected paths, unstable patches of scree and children running about unsupervised it is not surprising that a 6 yr. old boy should fall into the canal and drown and everyone is ready to accept that until it is remembered that this child is terrified of water and will not willingly go anywhere near it. The "wee boy" was walking home after school with the two daughters of Joa ...more
Jennifer W
Ugh. This book picked up around page 180. If this had been a library book, instead of a book I won here on firstreads, I never would have given it a chance. I'm pretty sure that we met all of Scotland during this tale, and damned if I can keep them all straight. I think I was 100 pages in before I realized how many "main" characters we had working for the newspaper (4). Joanne, although listed in the synopsis, is not really a main character. I found her to be unbelievable and wimpy. I might have ...more
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Pen name of Ann Deborah Nolan.

A. D. Scott was born in the Highlands of Scotland and educated at Inverness Royal Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She has worked in theatre, in magazines, and as a knitwear designer and currently lives in Vietnam and north of Sydney, Australia.
More about A.D. Scott...

Other Books in the Series

Joanne Ross (5 books)
  • A Double Death on the Black Isle: A Novel
  • Beneath the Abbey Wall
  • North Sea Requiem
  • The Low Road: A Novel
Beneath the Abbey Wall A Double Death on the Black Isle: A Novel North Sea Requiem The Low Road: A Novel A Kind of Grief: A Novel

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