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The Redemption of Alexander Seaton

(Alexander Seaton #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  697 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Is the young man merely drunk or does his tottering walk suggest something more sinister? When he collapses in front of two sisters on that dark, wet night, they guess rightly that he's been murdered by poisoning. So begins this tale set in the town of Banff, Scotland in the 1620s.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Quercus Books (first published 2008)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  697 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a solid and enjoyable historical mystery set in Scotland in 1626. The main hero, Alexander Seaton, is a disgraced would-be minister of the Church of Scotland who is obsessed with guilt and tormented by his lack of faith. He's certainly a compelling character and I grew to like him more and more as the novel proceeded and his past history is slowly clarified. His change of outlook throughout the book is depicted in a subtle and very convincing manner.

The murders at the heart of the stor
An excellent beginning...

A storm is raging in Banff in the north-east of Scotland as Alexander Seaton makes his way home from the inn so, when he sees a man staggering in the street, Alexander assumes he is the worse for drink and hurries on by to get out of the rain. When the man's dead body is found the next day in the schoolroom where Alexander teaches, his feelings of guilt are compounded when his friend Charles Thom is arrested for the murder. Convinced of Charles' innocence, Alexander sets
Clemens Schoonderwoert
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This very fascinating book, by this Scottish female author, which came to my attention after starting "The Seeker" series, is her debut mystery novel from way back as 2008, and I like to admit that it has been a thrilling read.
First of all I like to mention that at the end of the book you'll find a well documented glossary of Scottish words, so you'll feel somewhat more comfortable within this wonderful gripping story.
I have to say that story-telling from this Scottish author is of a top-notch q
Marguerite Kaye
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5-4 stars, I couldn't decide.

This was a slow burn of a novel. The setting, Banf in the reign of James VI and I, was extremely unusual, and as a result, it took me a while to get accustomed to the various characters and their place in the town - which really mattered. Alexander Seaton though, I warmed to right away. He's a fallen angel of a man, a man with a real and genuine calling in a world of hypocritical religious zealots, who has fallen from grace rather spectacularly and publicly. Rathe
P.D.R. Lindsay
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
'The Redemption of Alexander Seaton’
by Shona MacLean. Quercus, 2008, paperback: 408 pages, ISBN: 978-1- 84724-791-9

Shona MacLean’s novel beat mine in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger competition a few years ago. When her novel was published, a couple of years later, and it was Quercus publishing her, who had turned me down too, well, I had to read it to see what made her novel so instantly acceptable to the Lords and Masters of traditional publishing. She’d chosen to write about 17th C
THE REDEMPTION OF ALEXANDER SEATON (Hist. Mys-Alexander Seaton-Scotland-1626) - Ex
MacLean, Shona – 1st book
Quercus, 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9781847245052

First Sentence: The younger of the two shires rifled the man’s pockets with expert fingers.

Young Alexander Seaton, disallowed from becoming a minister, is now a teacher in his town of Banff, Scotland. He sees a man who staggers and falls on the street during a dark, wet night, but doesn’t stop to help.

With morning comes the revelation tha
Beth (bibliobeth)
This is the first book in the Alexander Seaton series by British author Shona MacLean, a tale of 17th century Scotland, full of intrigue, mystery and religious fervour. Our main character Alexander is a school master although he would dearly love to be a minister, and was prevented from achieving this by a mistake made when he fell for the “wrong woman.” Things kick off for Alexander when a man whom he knows is found murdered by poisoning in his school room. The previous night, he had seen this ...more
I was going to hold back with reviewing this book until after the Book Discussion group had, well, discussed it. But as some of us have already rated and posted, I thought I would do the same.

I started off with huge optimism; my sort of novel - good time, setting and premise for a captivating read. By the time I was half way through I wished all the characters would be swept away never to be seen again. The 'hero' was pious, self-pitying and in need of a good slapping. Some had identical surname
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice historical mystery, even though the historical aspect was minimal. It was an interesting story and it kept me interested until the end, even though the answer to the Mystery was revealed early on through the clues. I will be trying this author again.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-historical
c2008: FWFTB: Banff, embittered, murder, Catholic, witch. This book is exquisitely written. The period seems to have been effortlessly invoked and the dialogue in tune with the time and mores of the 17th C. I did not guess the murderer! There is some lovely humorous one-liners which stops the novel from sinking into being 'depressing' "He was the eyes and ears of Baillie Buchan who, by some oversight on the part of Beelzebub, could not be in two places at once." Some knowledge of the particular ...more
Sarah Knowler
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the book that first pulled me away from Wolf Hall - I know, amazing - but then sent me back to it with renewed enthusiasm. Before I reached the point of trailing WH around with me like a comfort blanket (I'm there now), I felt lazy one day and picked this up rather than walk upstairs. Very soon Alexander Seaton had grabbed me. I found myself wondering about him while not reading. The plot and setting reminded me of the books I loved as a child: Kidnapped, Moonfleet, Lorna Doone. It remin ...more
Diana Sandberg
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very good. Setting – Banff, Scotland, 1626. Our protagonist is a young man with a deeply troubling past. He is working as a schoolmaster but we soon find out he was almost made a minister of The Kirk until something terrible happened. He is, to some extent, pulled from his despair by the shocking death of a young relative of the provost of the town and the arrest of one of his own few friends for the deed. This is a tale well told. I enjoyed the setting and the characters and did not guess the m ...more
Chris Stanley
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow What a fantastic thriller - I'd give it six stars! This is the best book I've read in years. The characters are likeable and realistic the plot excellent and the storytelling superb. I will be reading the sequel soon!
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Audiobook read by Crawford Logan
Interesting book, with some good characterisation.
I was curious about this writer since Scotland has recently become my new literary focus. I don’t usually read crime novels, but the abstract of this book sounded interesting. However, to me, the story did not have a great deal of Scottish flavour. It’s a historical crime novel that takes place in a town by the sea; the story includes murder, superstition, religious fervour, and a public frenzy that leads to a witch hunt. Thus, the plot could be taking place in any coastal European town at that ...more
David Grieve
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A historical drama/thriller set in Banff in the 1620s involving religious fervour, witchcraft, map making and, of course, murder. What's not to like? Personally I found story quite difficult to get into but after the first 60/70 pages it started to get going.

The characters and setting are very well drawn with the sense of place and time being very evocative, Some of the characters verge on caricatures with certain characteristics being hugely magnified to the exclusion of any redeeming features,
Mark Baines
a story based in Scotland in the 16Century when life was hard and not made any easier by fire & brimstone preachers, john Knox's protestantism/prebyterianism, fear of papist plots and an uneducated populace that still believed in witches when it suited.
Against this back ground, the title is well drawn out, with unfamiliar 'job' titles (eg provost, baillie), relationships between these titles, and also landowners, and who people fit into the fabric of society, we have a well crafted story, wh
Mary Arkless
Set in Banff, Aberdeenshire, and Aberdeen in 1626, the story begins with the murder of a young man. It is told by a man who had worked hard to become a minister, but was denounced at the last moment. He was wracked with self-loathing and shame, and treated by most he encountered daily as a greatly fallen man, a sinner of the worst type. This is the Alexander Seaton of the title. His friend is accused of the murder, and Seaton knows his friend did not do it. Can he prove it in time?

It took a whil
Daniel Weston
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found the first in the Alexander Seaton series to be very different to many of it's contemporary rivals in the historical crime genre. The world depicted is a lot less harsh and cruel, with softer characters than other books in the genre. However, I found the characters to be very engaging, with the writer showing a good insight into human behaviour. The book is quite slow-paced, with heavy dialogue yet is never boring. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The pacing, setting and character are diff ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Thoroughly enjoyed MacLean's recent books so I decided to go back to the start. Not disappointed. It’s a murder mystery in which the politics and religious debates of early 17th century Scotland are integral to the plot. Not everyone’s cup of porridge but it’s brilliantly done, helped by MacLean being a superb writer. It you like well-research, well-plotted and we’ll-written historical novels, especially mysteries, this one is for you.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Not bad. Decent writing, interesting mystery (with a completely irrelevant element a la Lewis), nice sense of history. And yet. There just wasn't enough there to entice me to read the next book in the series.
Caty Toward
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Book Riot Read Harder 2017: #9
Graham Fi
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a brilliant read. Nothing better than a good historical Novel. Even better when set near your own home town.
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Redemption of Alexander Seaton does exactly what the title says, it leads us through the redemption of someone who looked set for a future as a minister until they were denied this future. The reason for this denial is not explained until a good way through the book but we first meet Alexander as a grammar school teacher in Banff in 1626, deeply ashamed at his conduct and despondent at his lack of future now he will no longer be a minister, he spends his days teaching and his nights mostly w ...more
There was much to enjoy about this mystery, I especially liked the main character. Alexander Seaton is a man ashamed of his misdeeds and still harshly judged by his disgrace. In the tight knit Scottish community where he is a school master he has very few friends. The one person he counts closest to him, Charles Thom, has been arrested and charged with murder. The corpse of the apothecary's apprentice, Patrick Davidson, was found in a classroom in Alexander's house. Thom's romantic feelings for ...more
Alan Thomson
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. Made better by the fact it is based in NE Scotland. Great character development and fascinating historical information. Super plot and altogether a lovely read
Alan Hughes
Is the young man simply drunk or does his staggering walk suggest something more sinister? When he collapses in front of the two sisters on that dark, wet night, the women guess rightly that he's been poisoned. So begins this gripping tale set in the town of Banff, Scotland in the 1620s. The body of the victim, the apothecary's apprentice, is found in the house of Alexander Seaton a fallen minister, the discovery of whose clandestine love affair has left him disgraced and deprived him of his voc ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discuss-it
It took me some time to get into this book, although I enjoyed it very much. I like historical mysteries when they feel right for the setting and in this one the period detail is probably spot-on, it is certainly consistent. The language seems more Victorian than Jacobean, but an old fashioned style suits the narration and there were not too many unfamiliar Scottish words. Shona Maclean may have been trying to write like Robert Louis Stevenson (or Walter Scott) and not at all like Alastair Macle ...more
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Aka: S.G.MacLean

I was born in Inverness and brought up in the Highlands where my parents were hoteliers. I went to school in Dingwall. I have an M.A. and Ph. D in History from the University of Aberdeen. I am maried with four children and currently living in Banff on the Moray coast.

About writer's work:
I write historical crime fiction, and am currently working on my third book featuring

Other books in the series

Alexander Seaton (4 books)
  • A Game of Sorrows (Alexander Seaton, #2)
  • Crucible of Secrets (Alexander Seaton, #3)
  • The Devil's Recruit (Alexander Seaton  #4)