Wednesday 20 December 2023

The Trials of Majorie Crowe by C S Robertson #TheTrialsofMajorieCrowe @CraigRobertson_ @HodderBooks @lararosetamara #BookReview


How do you solve a murder when everyone thinks you're guilty?

Marjorie Crowe lives in Kilgoyne, Scotland. The locals put her age at somewhere between 55 and 70. They think she's divorced or a lifelong spinster; that she used to be a librarian, a pharmacist, or a witch. They think she's lonely, or ill, or maybe just plain rude. For the most part, they leave her be.

But one day, everything changes.

Local teenager Charlie McKee is found hanging in the woods, and Marjorie is the first one to see his body. When what she saw turns out to be impossible, the police have their doubts. And when another young person goes missing, the tide of suspicion turns on her.

Is Marjorie the monster, or the victim? And how far will she go to fight for her name?

The Trials of Majorie Crowe by C S Robertson is published on 18 January 2024 by Hodder. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

C S Robertson's previous novel; The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill which I read and reviewed around a year ago was such a brilliantly satisfying read so I had very high hopes for The Trials of Majorie Crowe.

Once again, this talented and very clever author has created a lead character that the reader cannot help but empathise with, Majorie is certainly one of a kind, she's flawed but she's honest and determined and is certainly put through many trials in this novel. 

It's a crime novel, there are crimes, it's a mystery novel, there are plenty of those too, but it's also a poetic and sensitively written ode to Scotland; the landscape, the people and the myths and fables. It is a tale of witchcraft and suspicion, of healing plants and forgotten cures. It's a deep, sometimes dark look into communities, that of the small village in which it is set, and also the communities that have evolved via Social Media; the Twitter pile-ons, the trolls, the people who latch on to scandal, and who keep it going, regardless if they are connected to it.  Robertson also looks at grief and how the mind deals with tragic instances for many years in the future, how unscrupulous people can use the tragedies of others to their gain, and how human beings can hurt and be hurt. 

Despite the fact that Majorie has lived in the village for over two decades, she is still often seen as an outsider. She's different to the other people there, she has her rituals, and one of these is that she takes a walk, twice per day at exactly the same time, on exactly the same route. 

It is during one of these walks that Majorie discovers something that will turn her world upside down. A young boy, hanging from a tree. Shocked and frightened, Majorie tells nobody, but it is not long before the police come to her door and she immediately becomes the main suspect in the tragic death. This is not the first tragic event to happen to a young person in the village, and it soon becomes clear that it won't be the last. 

There are some people in the village, those who seem to be in charge and are looked up to that Majorie both fears and suspects and despite the vitriol and hate that is spewed out towards her, both from her own community and the wider world of Twitter, she is determined to uncover just what has been happening, and try her best to prevent it from happening again. 

I was totally consumed by this story, finding any excuse to pick up the book and read another chapter. I was transfixed by Majorie's tales and witchcraft, going back through the centuries and despite her strangeness and that fact that at times, she did nothing to help herself, I had her back, all of the way through. 

A multi layered and intricately structured story of the old and the new, with an incredible sense of place and populated by masterfully created characters. Some of whom you will despise, others you will wonder about, and a few that you will love. 

Perfection in a book. Highly recommended. 

A former journalist, Craig Robertson had a 20-year career with a Scottish Sunday
newspaper before becoming a full-time author. He interviewed three Prime Ministers, reported on major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. He was pilloried on breakfast television, beat Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, spent time on Death Row in the USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India.

His first novel, Random, was shortlisted for the 2010 CWA New Blood Dagger, longlisted for the 2011 Crime Novel of the Year and was a Sunday Times bestseller. He has been both longlisted and shortlisted for writing prizes.

He now shares his time between Scotland and California and can usually be found on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic.

X / Twitter @CraigRobertson_

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