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A STYLISH NEW SERIES
on September 25, 2011
A TRICKY LIE opens with readers following Duncan MacDougall's morning routine. We witness his little kindnesses toward his sleeping wife. He turns the alarm clock off before it rings, and gives his wife a gentle caress, being very careful not to wake her. We witness his thoughts, and it becomes clear that this is a man who is very much in love with his wife. By midday Duncan will be found dead in his office chair, and his wife will be suspected of murder.
Twenty-nine year old Fiona Sutherland is heiress to the Sutherland Distillery empire, a family owned business which has flourished for generations. Fiona was educated in London, and working as a business reporter, but she now recognizes her responsibility to return home to Scotland, and become a part of the management of the family business. Fiona was orphaned at an early age, and raised by her grandmother at Kilmarack House, an enormous faux-castle gothic style mansion, complete with a tall central multi-story crenellated tower.
Chief Inspector Nick Dawson is brought in from out of town to lead the investigation into the MacDougall case. Since he's not a local resident, he needs help acclimating himself to the local scene, and Fiona's services are volunteered (not by Fiona, but by her grandmother). The Chief Inspector is a single man, and just a couple of years older than Fiona. He is of course a potential love interest for her, but they clash badly as Fiona conducts her own private investigation, not always cooperating or sharing information with Dawson. Their relationship is strained by the investigation, but it becomes clear that there is a mutual attraction which could lead to romance. We readers will have to wait until the next book in the series for that though, since Fiona doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get involved.
The MacDougall case eventually gets solved, and Fiona of course plays a major part. By the end of the story Fiona still calls Dawson "Chief Inspector." He invites her to call him "Nick," but she settles on the only slightly less formal "Mr. Dawson," clearly indicating that she wants him to slow down a little. Will we find out in the next book why Fiona is so reluctant for a romantic attachment? I'm betting on it!
One more noteworthy observation: The series ends with a cliffhanger. Fiona appears to be the sole heir of her generation of Sutherlands. The business is run by her grandmother and her 51 year old bachelor uncle. The story ends with the grandmother telling Fiona that "someone has just arrived that you should meet." We readers don't get to meet this person until the next installment of the series, but could Fiona's status as sole heir to the Sutherland empire be in jeopardy?
I need to say a few words about the editing of this book. In a word, it is superb. This is a full-length novel, properly formatted for Kindle. There is an active table of contents, and proper chapter breaks. I didn't notice any spelling or grammatical errors. One sentence had a couple of words transposed, but in general I would have to say that Ella J. Fraser's books are among the best edited that I have seen. I like the measured pacing of the way events unfold, and characters are introduced. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the Sutherland Mystery Series. FIVE STARS for a great start to a new series! The next installment (wwwEB OF LIES) is supposed to be available sometime this coming autumn.