Dangerous Pursuits

Written by Alanna Knight
Review by Fiona Lowe

The second book in the Rose McQuinn mystery series is a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the world of Edinburgh’s first intrepid female private investigator, for readers who like me happened to miss the first book in the series. An oversight I will not be long in setting to rights! In the 1890s, ‘intrepid’ is certainly a fair description of Rose McQuinn, a most engaging character, intelligent, independently minded and utterly unconventional. Lovingly employed details help to create a convincing and compelling picture of late Victorian Edinburgh, amongst which are a heroine who reads the novels of Robert Louis Stevenson and a young nanny who performs in Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operettas. The plot is shot through with darker undertones: Dockers’ strikes, appalling poverty and errant husbands, to name but a few.

In Dangerous Pursuits we find Mrs McQuinn attempting to persuade her lover, Detective Sergeant Jack MacMerry, that she has discovered a dead woman’s body whilst walking on Arthur’s seat, the volcanic outcrop perched high above the city. Detective Sergeant MacMerry is not so easily persuaded, not without good reason – there is no report of a dead body. An inconvenient occurrence Mrs McQuinn is determined to explain. She is certain foul murder has taken place.

The central relationship between Jack MacMerry and Rose McQuinn is full of charm. One cannot help but admire the Detective Sergeant’s terrier-like tenacity in the face of his lady-love’s implacable independence. Alanna Knight’s writing is richly diffused with a winning combination of warm-hearted tenderness and humour, whilst the mystery story is equally captivating and reaching a deeply satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.