A Kind of Grief

Written by A. D. Scott
Review by Francesca Pelaccia

Set in the northern Scottish Highlands of the late 1950s, A Kind of Grief brings back Joanne Ross, a former reporter of the Highland Gazette and now a remarried woman with a budding writing career. When Alice Ramsey, artist and alleged witch, is found hanging by the beams of her barn in a remote Scottish glen, the verdict is suicide. But Joanne feels responsible. She brought renewed attention to the woman’s trial that accused her of witchcraft and to her whereabouts. As Joanne investigates Alice’s past, she uncovers more intrigue, which leads to more questions and to the realization that she has opened a secretive and classified story about Alice and the country. Add to the suspense officials from a mysterious government agency, different levels of police, a pompous art critic, and the village residents with their own stories about Alice, and Joanne knows she has stumbled on an intriguing story and that Alice’s death may not have been by her own hand.

A Kind of Grief revolves around Joanne Ross and Alice Ramsay, but A.D. Scott moves into every character’s point of view. Every character has his or her say if only for a couple sentences, paragraphs or scenes to provide some insight either into another character or to propel the novel along to its final conclusion. All the characters are well-thought-out and presented with care, as is the small Scottish community, where Alice is found dead, its residents, and the social norms of the day.

A Kind of Grief is not a blood-and-gore type of mystery but a slowly unravelling and fascinating account of one woman in a man’s world and the Cold War.