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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 August 2013
For the third book in the series following the life and times of Alexander Seaton, we return to Aberdeen. A colleague is murdered and Seaton becomes embroiled in the search for the killer. There's some backfill to the first two books and this works very well as a standalone.

I find Alexander totally engaging as a character. He is growing with each book and is now a married family man, with anxieties and conflicts based on human frailty. As in the first book, the introspective nature of University life and the confines of a largely academic circle in Aberdeen are prescriptive and almost tangible. The cloistered world of study could be cloying and dull, but Ms Maclean weaves a spellbinding tale around the search for the killer. Once again, there's a significant historical background based on alchemy and a 17th century search for a universal truth. It's great stuff; a book which I was reluctant to put it down and was wondering what would happen next.

All in all, a great well rounded and likeable central character who develops as an individual, plausible locations and a plot which is well paced throughout and cleverly woven around fact. Loved it.
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on 2 April 2018
This tale was just that, just grand. A real page turning murder mystery ,without cursing and swearing. without gratuitous sex or violence The backdrop of the series gives an intriguing glimpse into what like life ,might have been lived, in old Scotland.
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on 17 October 2017
This book is best read, rather than talked about. I would encourage though , that you start at book one in the series ,so Mr Seaton is well known to you. An enjoyable read all round, more story than historical insight though. Do read though, you will enjoy , I have no doubt.
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on 7 November 2017
Ms McLean weaves the most complex tapestry to bring all the characters into play. Their histories and finally the outcome! Ace all boxes ticked and achieved.
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on 11 February 2015
An enjoyable historical "whodunit" which rattles along nicely enough. Not as good as the Gil Cunningham series but comparable with the Hew Cullen series. I did find the author's inability to use the verb "to give " correctly (the past tense is "given", not "gifted", which is actually an adjective meaning "talented") rather irritating (it occurs a lot in this story!) but I still enjoyed this as an easy read.
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on 20 November 2015
The Alexander Seaton books just get better and better. Where the first one is a little hard to get into there's a real feeling the author hits her stride on book 2 and by Crucible it's matching writers Like C.J. Sansom for the feeling of authenticity and plot. There's also great interplay between the characters, it's always a good sign when a writer can make you laugh with their character at something that is only funny in that situation and in their world. The only negative I have about this book is the sinking feeling you'll have when you realise there is only one more.
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on 12 October 2017
Great author - always intriguing and well thought out plots set in well researched historical settings
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on 13 April 2013
The obvious comparison is with C J Sansome - MacLean is not quite at that level as a writer, but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through seventeenth-century Aberdeen. He's done some research and captured a reasonable flavour (or should I say - convincing to the non-expert reader) of the life of the city. Literary comparisons with Hilary Mantel, made by one or two other reviewers, are however well wide of the mark.
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on 12 October 2016
I really enjoyed this book - just finished reading it. I've now bought the last in the Alexander Seaton series and am reading that, too. Wish the author would write another one!
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on 16 November 2013
Although not as good as the first book of the series ''The redemption of Alexander Seaton'' this was still a rattling good read. The historical detail was as ever excellent to the point where I wish I had studied History at University rather than what I did!!Shona MacLean made this period of history come to life for me. Hopefully she will write many more novels
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