Time for the Dead by Lin Anderson

Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Time For The Dead, the brand new Rhona MacLeod thriller from Lin Anderson. A big thank you to Humfrey at Laura Sherlock PR for inviting me to join the tour, and to publishers Macmillan for providing an early copy for review. Here is what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Review Copy

About the Book

Time for the Dead is a gripping crime novel by Lin Anderson and sees forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod discover that a terrifying war is unfolding on Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

When forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod returns to her roots on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, a chance encounter in the woods behind a nearby activities centre leads her to what seems to be a crime scene, but without a victim. Could this be linked to a group of army medics, who visited the centre while on leave from Afghanistan and can no longer be located on the island?

Enlisting the help of local tracker dog Blaze, Rhona starts searching for a connection.

Two days later a body is found at the base of the famous cliff known as Kilt Rock, face and identity obliterated by the fall, which leads Rhona to suspect the missing medics may be on the island for reasons other than relaxation. Furthermore, elements of the case suggests a link with an ongoing operation in Glasgow, which draws DS Michael McNab into the investigation.

As the island’s unforgiving conditions close in, Rhona must find out what really happened to the group in Afghanistan, as the consequences may be being played out in brutal killings on Skye . . .

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Google Playstore | Apple Books

My Thoughts

I’m feeling a little like a stuck record of late as I say, yet again, this is the first book I have read by this author … I am both regretful of that fact and quite delighted at the same time. Regretful as I can tell I’ve missed an awful lot and, to be fair, I think I’d have benefitted from reading the previous book, Sins of the Dead, at the very least. I’m delighted too because I know I have discovered another series I will be absolutely hooked on and because one of Rhona MacLeod’s colleagues in this book is a real stunner and also a real life Isle of Skye legend – Blaze the Dog!!! More about Blaze later.

In Time For the Dead we find Rhona MacLeod on a very much needed sabbatical from her job as Forensic Scientist for Police Scotland. While the book doesn’t go too far into why, which for those who have read the previous book will give them some comfort that not too much old ground is being covered, there is enough detail for new readers, like me, to understand something quite considerable happened to Rhona that it is taking her times to come to terms with. She has retreated to the Isle of Skye, to a home festooned with memories but in which she can find the peace and solitude she craves. At least until she happens upon an area which in her expert opinion may well be a crime scene. Idyllic respite cancelled, Rhona ploughs herself into the investigation, a welcome distraction as it turns out with the solitude not proving to be quite as restful as she may have hoped.

The story sees the action move between the Isle of Skye and Afghanistan, in a period some time before the main story takes place. The scenes from Afghanistan link the action back to a team of Army Medics who are taking time out on the Island and it is clear have something to do with what Rhona is investigating. The what and why, however, will remain illusive until nearly the end of the book, the history being slowly and carefully drip fed to readers as the pages turn. The scenes in Afghanistan, while not necessarily graphic in detail, are harrowing enough, the plot highlighting the devastating effects of war upon the country and those sent to help. With one of the Medics, a women they simply call Seven, the plight and treatment of women is a very harsh reality that is brought to the fore, and the impacts of what happens is very carefully handled. It feels authentic, and sometimes very hard to read. The coping mechanisms employed, the way the mind wanders between a need to survive and a desire to end it all, brings out a raw kind of emotion in you as a reader.

It also draws a parallel to Rhona, herself a victim and a kind of prisoner in her own tortured mind. Whilst the circumstances of their confinement may have been different, the uncertainty of anything other than the fact that to take no action means certain death, hangs heavily over both Rhona and Seven. It adds emotion and drive to the story, as well as giving Rhona the focus she needs to find her way back to herself. Whilst I haven’t known the characters of Rhona for long, and perhaps in not the greatest of circumstances, I found her fascinating. Strong in her own way, no matter her demons, and fiercely intelligent she is a character I’m looking forward to hearing more of.

There are many other characters in the book that fans of the series will recognise, although I’ll be honest, it was two of them that really stood out for me. One was Alvis Olsen, an Inspector from Norway who had worked with Rhona on a previous case, and who is on his own kind of pilgrimage and escape on Skye. He is a character who seems full of compassion and sorrow, and yet he provides a great deal of support to Rhona when she needs it most, both mental and professional. As for the other … Well I think I may have fallen in love with Blaze. I have always loved dogs, but the way in which he inserts himself in the investigation, the courage and energy that he displays, and the absolute understanding of those around him. He’s a superstar. And he’s real! An actual real life rescue dog bought to life again in the pages of this excellent book. If you read this and don’t want to go to Skye yourself for a doggy cuddle then you have no heart!

Imagery in this book is strong, the descriptions of the landscape in both Skye and Afghanistan so detailed, so intense, that they become characters in themselves. Everything feels real, almost tangible, from the sights and sounds to the descriptions of the beasts that inhabit both worlds, both friend and foe. It makes for an immersive read, completely drawing you into the action. I could feel the stifling heat of Seven’s prison, and needed to warm myself against the bitter cold of Skye, a deliberate and yet effective contrast to all the similarities that pervade both worlds.

And so, yes, yet again I am a fool. I have such a huge volume of work to catch up on now, but I know I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. Top read. Highly recommended.

About the Author

Lin Anderson is a Scottish novelist and screenwriter best known for her bestselling series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod of which there are currently fourteen novels, four of which have been long listed for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist.

Lin is co-founder of the international crime writing festival Bloody Scotland which takes place annually in Stirling, Scotland, mid September.

Author Links: Twitter | Website