on 9 February 2004
If you added up all the buyers of golf books, murder mysteries, Scottish history, historical novels, militaria, police procedurals and forensic thrillers, you would probably have just about every book-buyer in the world! Bruce Durie probably had exactly that in mind when he conceived this msterpiece.
I'll say up front that it's sometimes hard to decide whether this book is fact (it purports to be the recently-discovered records of the Chief Constable in St Andrews, found 100 years after his death in 1903) or fiction. For what it's worth, I checked a few of the facts, places and people and they all checked out! Even things nobody could have known, but really did happen.
Author Durie comes across a slightly pompous "historian", annotating the text with show-off footnotes that are either for-real (and he's a pratt), or else it's a brilliant satire on academic know-it-alls.
Anyway - everybody knows Tom Morris, father and son, the world's greatest golfers. But Young Tom died tragically young. This, along with the mysterious deaths of other Morris family members (death certificates included in the book!) suggests murder.
I won't give it away - the resolution is fantastic (but, a scientist friend says, plausible) and the golfing detail is just exquisite.
This will have Americans (like me) drooling, and I can see a McArdle Visitor Experience opening up in St Andrews real soon.
I bought it in a bookshop in St Andrews, gave it to a friend who stole it (!) and found they were sold out when I went back. Thank Goodness for Amazon!