Shona MacLean (2011) Crucible of Secrets. Quercus Publishing 

A historical thriller set in Aberdeen in 1631 the murdered body of the university librarian is discovered within the first few pages. Although this is the sequel to “The Redemption of Alexander Seaton” this novel is complete within itself.

Beneath the respectable veneer of the day to day life of the university masters, their associates and families lie some unpalatable truths, including an interest in the carefully guarded knowledge of the masons. The masons are intent on discovering the secrets of alchemy.

A second body is found in a shallow grave. Alexander Seaton is determined to investigate the two murders but his investigations into the lives of powerful people in Aberdeen society put the lives of himself and his family at risk. He is left unsure who to suspect and who he can trust.

A good read, as promised by the picture on the cover. I enjoyed being immersed in 17th century Aberdeen although for me it didn’t convey the wider historical context and I won’t be transferring my allegiance away from C. J. Sansom


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