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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 31 May 2014
This first novel by Jaycee Brown has already been compared to books by Peter May such as The Black House because they are both set on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. However The Machair Crowlacks the brooding intensity of May’s work, which glowers like the sky over a Scottish mountain. Instead it’s a much more meat-and-potatoes thriller, more Tom Clancy than Georges Simenon atmospherics – and none the worse for it. Brown’s heroine Helen Riley is a Jane Bond/Ms Bourne type investigating the death of a government animal disease scientist on behalf of his widow. The authorities are covering up. What Riley finds out also provides payback for a tragedy from her own past — indeed, one of the satisfactions of this book is how Brown skilfully weaves Riley’s backstory as damaged goods into the narrative. We understand why she is the way she is.

Brown has clearly done a lot of research into latest developments into weaponised technology from invisibility suits to remote control warfare, which is a pleasure to absorb.

Sure, he makes some newbie mistakes such as switching viewpoints within the same chapter and, confusingly, switching between the first and third person in alternate chapters. And there are long descriptions of island countryside and room interiors, which do nothing to move the story on. (It’s not for nothing that Hollywood calls scene descriptions “the stuff in-between” – it’s the dialogue which counts.)

Any BBC Scotland TV producer reading this review should snap up the rights to The Machair Crow; it would make a perfect two-parter for a Sunday evening. And Brown himself looks as if he has a franchise on his hands.
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on 4 April 2014
I was very impressed by this first novel from Jaycee Brown. The plot is well conceived, backed up by some technical research and an obvious personal knowledge of the setting, and is structured in a way which makes you want to keep reading. There's a good balance of descriptive writing and narrative, which builds to an exciting climax and resolution. The author creates a great sense of place throughout the story, especially in descriptions of the Isle of Lewis. The main protagonist is a feisty female PI, which should appeal to both male and female readers, and there are several intriguing inter-connected mysteries to be solved...Who killed Peter Scott and why? What is Dalomedina and what's going on there......and where does the Machair crow fit into the picture ? This book is well worth a read and I'm looking forward to the promised sequel.
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on 6 September 2014
Was very intense...as soon I finished I tried to buy the sequel...not available yet
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on 28 January 2016
Thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced thriller set on the Isle of Lewis which introduces feisty ex-special services cop, Helen Riley. The author is an accomplished story teller and has thoroughly researched his subject. Highly recommended!
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on 20 October 2014
First time I have read this writer great enjoyed this very much
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on 7 April 2015
A friend sent me a link for this and I'm pleased I followed up.

An enjoyable book with interesting locations and characters which will be worth developing further. I will definitely be looking out for the next book in the series.
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on 15 August 2015
The plot in this novel was excellent. I really liked that the protagonist was female and passionate without her being mocked, portrayed as hysterical or as unnatural. Riley is a highly trained professional with all the cares and flaws that we all have but with a startling tenacity and a desire to do the right thing. The self sufficiency of the islanders and of Riley, and 'sorting things out yourself, face to face', juxtaposed beautifully with the portrayal of an impersonal death at the hands of the faceless drone operator.

I enjoyed the pace and the characters and the plot and would recommend anyone to read on.
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on 21 August 2014
Took a while to get into the story, really enjoyed it. Looking forward to the next one
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on 5 October 2014
Enjoyed this book, looking forward to reading more of this series...
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on 1 August 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. It's one of these books which you can't wait to finish but wish it would last longer.
I'm impatiently awaiting the sequel and hopefully the next one will be written before I finish it.
Highly recommended for those who love the Hebrides.
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