Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton
Series: DI Marjory Fleming #1
Genre: Mystery, police procedural
Setting: Southwest Scotland–near Galloway
Published by Witness Impulse, 2005
Synopsis: Death is in the air. Death is on the ground. Death is everywhere for the people of Galloway. As a catastrophic virus devastates the Scottish countryside, killing cattle and destroying lives, Detective Inspector Marjory Fleming finds herself at the stormy heart of a troubled, trapped community. Pyres are built, infected animals are burnt, and farmland is dug up as burial ground. But the all-pervasive stench of death develops a horrifying, unfamiliar edge when human remains are dug up near the small market town of Kirkluce. Thousands of miles away in New York City, a woman called Laura resolves to unearth the dark secrets of her past. Determined to discover the truth behind her older sister’s disappearance fifteen years ago, her journey takes her back to Galloway, to a world of suspicion, fear and menace. A dead body, a missing girl, and a mysterious family’s dangerous obsession with bull running provide a sinister backdrop to DI Fleming’s first murder investigation. And as the cold shadow of death looms ever larger over this quiet corner of rural Britain, one thing becomes clear: it won’t be her last.
Act as a spy on her own community? How could she? And if she did, would she ever be forgiven? In the country memories are long, with grudges handed down from one generation to the next.
Cat, under Janet’s influence, was rapidly becoming a Fifties throwback. Marjory rarely saw her without a pinny on and she had even said reproachfully, ‘Mum, why don’t you pull out all the beds to clean behind them every week? You can’t have a clean house if there’s dust under the beds.’ Like her grandmother, she’d taken to waiting hand and foot on the menfolk and her brother was rapidly becoming a male chauvinist piglet.
- First book in a police procedural series set in Scotland! Very good!
- The book begins with a prologue. The details aren’t clear–but it seems a young woman is murdered.
- DI Marjory Fleming is both a farm wife and a detective inspector in the local police force.
- When foot-and-mouth disease shows up in their area of Scotland she’s pulled both ways. She wants to be with her husband on their farm, but she has to stay and do her job as a police officer.
- When diseased cattle are killed on a property and a pasture is used to bury the cattle a body is discovered buried in the pasture.
- Now DI Fleming is heading a murder investigation.
- I love chapter 1–shows the farm wife feeding her chickens and then transforming from farm wife and mother to a police detective inspector.
- The book has several story lines and character view points. We’re not sure how all the story lines will meet up at first.
- The first part of the book shows the lead up to foot-and-mouth disease coming closer and closer to southwestern Scotland. That part of the book reads more like general fiction than a mystery, but I really liked it. Finding out about these people’s lives really made me feel invested in the characters and their lives.
- There are horrific images in this book–farms forcibly entered, animals slaughtered even if they don’t show signs of the disease, the stench of dead animals.
- The human cost of killing animals which farmers have poured their lives into is shown in this book. It’s heartbreaking to read about, but I thought it was well done. The worry of the farmers as they face having their sheep, pigs and cattle killed and the preparation of the police for trouble from farmers as well as the possibility of suicide by farmers.
- Because Marjory can’t get compassionate leave to stay at the farm with her husband she and their children have to stay in town with her parents. Her husband is more and more despondent and distant as she talks on the phone with him.
- Marjory pays a personal price as her neighbors see her siding with the government against them. Plus she can’t see her husband since farms are quarantined and she worries about him.
- Marjory heads up the murder investigation of the body found buried in a farm field. The investigation is difficult and complex. The case is old, the body unidentified at first, police resources spread thin and Marjory’s supervisor wants her to wrap up the case quickly.
- The way a few characters act seems exaggerated. This didn’t make me like the book any less, however!
And concluding thoughts . . .
- I really enjoyed this book. I thought the mystery, most of the characters, setting and writing were all very well done.
- I’ve bought the second book in the series and am eager to read it.
Have you read this book? How did you like it?
- “I grew up in the fishing village of Anstruther, on the east coast of Scotland not far from St Andrews. The memories of beautiful scenery and a close community inspired me to set the Marjory Fleming series in a place very like that – rural Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland..
- I went on to Cambridge University to read English – three wonderful years when I couldn’t believe my luck that it was my duty to read books all day. And it still left a lot of time for the social life a girl could have in the days when we were in a 10-1 minority…
- It seemed natural to want to share my love of literature, so I taught for a few years. Then came marriage to Ian and two children, Philip and Clare and three memorable dogs, most recently the greatly-mourned Lucy, a wonderful Dalmatian who always kept me company while I wrote. Now we live in Edinburgh in a house with a balcony built by an astronomer to observe the stars, with a splendid view of the castle and the beautiful city skyline. I have grandchildren living in Kent now, so I seize every excuse for a trip south.”
- (the rest of the article Ms. Templeton wrote about herself is really interesting, too, as she talks about why she writes about crime.)