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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.
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on March 18, 2013
This book sounds absolutely intriguing - and the idea could have been formulated into a riveting storyline. HOWEVER, the dialog is as "interesting" as reading someones daily diary " we had grapefruit for breakfast and then watched Price is Right reruns, later we went to the grocery store..." <-- NOT at all an interesting read and that is about how "exciting" or "interesting" this novel was. The characters were also quite shallow and there were so many of them who seemed to kind of run together or not really have any distinguishing characteristics of their own so as to delineate them one from another.

Had Fraser kept the dialog and background details in check this would have been a much better read. It also ends in a very peculiar way - I suppose to leave you guessing, but really it only makes one second guess their taste in literature. Save your time and money on this one.
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on June 29, 2013
a light read, an easy read, with all the expected components for a detective thriller and unsubtle hints always followed through (ie a beautiful rich heiress and a good-looking Chief Inspector = sexual tension!). Although it's set in Scotland, only a few place names and the frequent mention of golf and the Open maintain the pleasant illusion. And pleasant it is - nothing to object to so enjoy!
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on January 12, 2013
This is an easy read, but there was plenty of made-up contention between Fiona and Nick, the two prime characters. I'm happy enough reading formulaic novels - don't mind them at all! - so I knew Fiona and Nick would get together before the story was done. However, the irritation they felt toward one another leading up to the final pages wasn't believable based upon their exchanges or conversations.
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on August 5, 2014
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on May 18, 2013
After a promising beginning, I was disappointed in the further development of the story. There seemed to be more attention given to the ladies fashions that, to me , distracted from the story. Golfers may like the setting of the tale, but a great mystery it was not.
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on November 4, 2011
An enjoyable read. All the traditional components are there, except that the locale is a village in Scotland (although except for a few Scottish words, one would not notice) rather than in England. The writing in the chapter that contains the big "reveal" is exceptionally good. You know that when the Chief Inspector is described as handsome that there's going to be a bit of romance in the story line. This is borne out by the final chapter which seems to have been inspired by Barbara Cartland. That aside, this is a solid book.
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on December 10, 2011
A nice, solid, British mystery. Not the most exciting, but well written and engaging... although the author was at times too heavy on the details. Details are great - I want a good sense of the environment and the characters, but there were some places where she definitely went a tad overboard.
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on March 2, 2016
Kept me interested.
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on March 27, 2012
I enjoyed the Scottish setting of this story, mixed in with the St.Andrews-like golfing. Fiona Sutherland and her Grama Isabel were good characters, and the promise of romance with Inspector Nick Dawson was fun.
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