"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 ŒWhat¹s the last thing you remember? Back in Edinburgh. ŒWere you drinking?¹. ŒVery likely, dear boy, said McKenzie with great dignity. ŒNo point of bein¹ sober if y¹ don¹t have to.¹
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 yourself.

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