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on 22 June 2015
Shirley McKay is such a gifted writer! No word is wasted, and her depiction of a bygone age in which human characters live and move and react in such a timeless fashion, is flawless. Set in St Andrews, Scotland, the accent, character and sheer humanity of her creations are irresistible. The central character, Hew Cullen, is likeable and we hope, feel and journey with him.

In this story, a Dutch ship flounders off the Scottish coast, and is wrecked on the rocks as it tries to reach the safe harbour of St Andrews. The whole town is mesmerised by the sight of the ship and its special cargo, and soon a tug of war ensues between the good people of that town to gain possession and control of that cargo. Emotion runs so high, someone is prepared to kill for it...... Despite his efforts to stay neutral, Huw is drawn into the situation and finds himself tossed on the tide of events, just like the ship.
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on 26 April 2017
Book was in good condition
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on 25 April 2016
This book read as if Ms McKay had a gun held to her head (by the publishers?) to write it. It is confused, ill-balanced, not worthy to bear the name of the author who wrote the first two books. The question I now have to answer is "Shall I bother to read the later volumes?"
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Hew Cullan still has problems. After the events of the previous book, he seems to have decided that being a lawyer is perhaps not his calling, and so he has returned to his hometown of St. Andrews and the life of a professor at the College. He spends his days flirting with the sister of one of his pupils and talking with his friends, seemingly content to put off making the hard decisions about his future. And then the windmill comes to town.

It is an ill wind that dashes ashore the ship carrying it. The only survivor is Jacob, a delirious young Dutchman who speaks some cryptic words to a local innkeeper before dying, and this sequence of events plunges Hew into a quest to find out the truth behind the matter. The local baxters (breadmakers) want control of the windmill to improve their own position in the town and, perhaps as importantly, to deny it to anyone else. However, under the laws of marine salvage, the true owner of the windmill must first be determined.

Hew is contacted by the Coroner (in this context, the King’s agent) to investigate and determine the truth of the matter, and in this it looks as though he might finally have found his niche. The Coroner, Andrew Wood, is a nicely sinister figure whose motivation remains shrouded, and whose relations with the rest of the town are never clear.

The early death of Jacob gives Time & Tide its central mystery and sets Hew off on a path that leads him from St. Andrews to the Dutch Netherlands, embroiled in a savage fight for independence against the Catholic Spanish. There are two extremely effective sections in this part of the novel – one which brings home the horror of religious and civil conflict and how it turns the population against itself; and a second that takes a more nuanced look at the soldiers of the period.

Time & Tide is the third in the series, and it feels as though Shirley McKay is comfortable with the characters and their period. The banter between Hew and Giles feels natural and human even in period dialect, and the way that the characters’ lives develop also feels realistic. The wider political situation of the day is referred to throughout, ensuring that the reader is kept informed of what’s going on in the world without it being obtrusive.

Time & Tide is truly impressive in its scale. Sweeping effortlessly from town politics in Scotland to Dutch whorehouses and the brutality of war, it still manages to keep the central plot devastatingly personal. The quest to discover the secrets of the windmill turns out to be far more convoluted than it seems, and it is the power of this central mystery to keep on surprising that gives the book its power.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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on 23 December 2011
Eagerly anticipated book 3 of the Hew Cullan mysteries as I found books 1 and 2 very addictive...... Having just finished 'Time & Tide' it was certainly a worthy follow-on to the previous books in the series. In fact the characters are developing nicely now and the feel of the natural and political landscape is excellent. 'Time & Tide' would certainly make an excellent film!
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on 22 July 2014
I enjoyed this very much. I'm not usually a reader of medieval crime fiction and this is the second book in the series that I've read. While it took me a while to get into the period in the first one, this came much more easily and I found it simpler to understand the vast differences between then and now. The characters are well developed and the relationships between them interesting. Quite startling in parts to realise how subservient women were and how tenuous their hold on life could be when stepping out of line. It made me feel very grateful for being part of the twenty-first century.
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on 29 November 2012
The Hew Cullan series just gets better and better.
Ranging from St Andrews to Ghent, this book tells an authentic and intriguing story.
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on 27 June 2014
Like all the Hew Cullen books, this one is a good read. My only criticism is that I find difficulty in keeping track of the characters, and who is speaking at any given time. This problem may be mind rather than the author's. I recommend the book to anyone interested in historical mystery stories.
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on 25 March 2013
Another gem by shirley Mckay Hew is at his best looking for the answer to the mystery surrounding a windmill and two deaths have the town in a state of panic, all is settled by a trip to Holland and some shrewd acting on hews behalf
A good read
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on 2 July 2014
Enjoyed the first book in the series and have not been disappointed with the three following books. Hew Cullen is an interesting character and it is fascinating to watch his character develop during the series. Look forward to reading more of this series.
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