"Crisp, vividly evocotive prose..."
Solicitor Tam Buchanan and his friend and colleague Fizz Fitzgerald arrange
to get away from it all on a hill-walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.
Unfortunately, their idyllic break is ruined somewhat when they witness
an horrific car crash. Fizz and Buchanan hear the dying wish of the crash
victim - a plea to protect the second passenger in the car, an elderly
gentleman with a price on his head. Taking a pit-stop to decide what to
do, they are amazed to witness the police make a murderous attempt on
the old man's life. Getting away from it all now includes getting as far
away from the long arm of the law as possible!
Fizz and Buchanan have their work cut out in evading their pursuers,
keeping Scott reasonably sober and piecing together events from his extremely
fragmented memory. An amiable, innocent looking old man, more concerned
about his next drink than solving the mystery, Scott manages to try the
patience of both. One particularly memorable scene has Fizz running herself
ragged to protect him from police attention on a train journey through
which he peacefully sleeps.
The hot potato in question is Scott McKenzie, survivor of a car crash
witnessed by Tam Buchanan and his colleague Fizz Fitzgerald, on a hill-walking
weekend in the Highlands. Buchanan's promise to the dying driver to take
care of Scott is one which soon gives both he and Fizz cause for regret.
Not only does their new friend have some very determined people trying
to kill him, he is equally determined in seeking out opportunities to
indulge in a medicinal dram.
Events rattle along at a cracking pace, keeping the tension going to the
end with an imaginative, well constructed plot. The humour comes in steady
measure, dependably found in the exasperation of Fizz and Buchanan's friendship
as much as in the behaviour of the obliviously vacant Scott. The reader
may be as dumbfounded as Buchanan to see Fizz munching a sandwich while
trying to keep out of sight of the bad guys but her pragmatism is admirable.
I'm almost ashamed to admit that this is my first encounter with Fizz
and Buchanan, now in their seventh adventure. While it left me anxious
to read the other six, it was no liability. Joyce Holms does an excellent
job of establishing their personalities without labouring over background
information. Buchanan's caution, balanced against the "go for it"
approach of Fizz, complement each other perfectly.
Reviewed by Mary Andrea Clarke
On a hill-walking holiday in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, Fizz
Fitzgerald and Tam Buchanan are witness to a horrific car crash. There
is little they can do for the driver, except agree to accede to her dying
wish to help her passenger, who she assures them is being pursued by the
police who are trying to kill him. And so Fizz and Tam find themselves
on the run in charge of a guy in in his seventies with a halo of white
fluffy curls and the demeanour of a saint. The beatific smile of their
newly acquired friend is quickly explained, Mckenzie is pie-eyed.
Encountering the boys in blue on two occasions, it is clear that they
only want Scott McKenzie dead, and friendly chat is not on their agenda,
For Fizz and Tam, their only hope of information is Mckenzie, but he is
extremely vague,. Trying to establish how he came to be in Inverness Buchanan
asked What¹s the last thing you remember? Back in Edinburgh.
Were you drinking?¹. Very likely, dear boy, said McKenzie
with great dignity. No point of bein¹ sober if y¹ don¹t
Avoiding the police and seeking innocuous bed and breakfast accommodation
is not Buchanan¹s bag, but he adapts surprisingly well to the situation,
whereas Fizz, seems suddenly aware of all she has worked for. Trying to
keep McKenzie sober, no mean feat, when turning ones back he is off to
chat up the landlady for the cooking brandy, they attempt to back track
his activities and encounter far more than they could ever have envisaged.
For as McKenzie recalls places and people, he cannot recall whether they
are friends or the people chasing him, poising Fizz and Buchanana on the
horns of dilemma.
McKenzie is a wonderful character of great charm, and all the low-down
cunning of the drunk. I sensed some differences in this book to the earlier
books in the series, and think that it is down to Fizz. Now that Fizz
is on the verge of becoming a fully fledged solicitor is she changing
? She makes a change that unsettles Buchanan, well it unsettled me! No
of course I am not going to say what, you will have to read the book for
Oh! with what joy I open the pages of a Joyce Holms book. I know I will
not be disappointed, I can be assured of tight plotting, wonderful characterisation
and a truly satisfying read. If only she would write more than one book
a year. Sigh! --------
The earlier books in the series are Payment Deferred, Foreign Body, Bad
Vibes, Thin Ice, Mr Big and Bitter End.
Reviewed by Lizzie Hayes (Editor, Mystery Women), May 2003