Hue and Cry

Written by Shirley McKay
Review by Mike Ashworth

St. Andrews, Scotland, 1579. A young lawyer, Hew Cullen, returns home from France. His welcome home is lukewarm even from his family. He finds a town whose inhabitants are controlled and cowed by the all-powerful Protestant Kirk which supervises all aspects of their lives. When his friend, Nicholas Colp is accused of the murder of a young boy, Hew takes it upon himself to prove his friend’s innocence. While doing so, he finds himself challenging not only the might of the Kirk but he also uncovers a web of lies, corruption and deceit.

King James VI of Scotland visited the town of St Andrews when he turned fourteen, and it is this episode which underwrites the novel and provides the denouement in a satisfying manner where all is revealed. While a little slow at times, the plot is convincing. The dourness of the Scottish town and inhabitants which hides the dark passions that lie beneath the surface is effectively invoked. This is the first Hew Cullen mystery; no doubt there will be more. If you enjoy historical crime mysteries you will like this.