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This Issue presents a selection of books and authors to see at various summer festivals in Scotland and elsewhere. Featuring something for everyone - crime writing, family drama, thrillers, travel writing, Shakespeare, new books for children and young adults, and more - all you need to do is read on with your diary to hand, and hope that the sun shines...

In the north of Scotland, a brutal murder has taken place in a remote crofting community. All seems to point to teenager Roderick Macrae as the violent perpetrator. Inventively told through a mixture of memoir, trial transcripts, newspaper reports and more, this award-winning novel builds to one key question: is Roderick Macrae insane? The opening statements presented below launch you into the dark heart of the complex case.

Extract from His Bloody Project By Graeme Macrae Burnet Published by Saraband Books 

Statements gathered from various residents of Culduie and the surrounding area by Officer William MacLeod of Wester Ross police force, Dingwall, on the 12th and 13th of August 1869

Statement of Mrs Carmina Murchison [Carmina Smoke], resident of Culduie, 12th August 1869

I have known Roderick Macrae since he was an infant. I generally found him to be a pleasant child and later to be a courteous and obliging young man. I believe he was greatly affected by the death of his mother, who was a charming and gregarious woman. While I do not wish to speak ill of his father, John Macrae is a disagreeable person, who treated Roddy with a degree of severity I do not believe any child deserves.

On the morning of the dreadful incident, I spoke to Roddy as he passed our house. I cannot recall the precise content of our conversation, but I believe he told me that he was on his way to carry out some work on land belonging to Lachlan Mackenzie. He was carrying some tools, which I took to be for this purpose. In addition, we exchanged some remarks about the weather, it being a fine and sunny morning. Roderick appeared quite composed and betrayed no sign of fretfulness. Somet...

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Crime writing frequently takes centre stage at book festivals worldwide. In the aftermath of Ullapool Book Festival, our monthly columnist delves into the genre via in-depth examination of Glasgow-based author – and former Taggart scriptwriter – Chris Dolan. David finds the author’s unabashed fondness for his central protagonist, Procurator Fiscal Maddy Shannon, and the complex narrative action, which typically expands beyond police/legal procedural, to be refreshing and ultimately compelling.

Crime writing, a phenomenally successful practitioner of the genre once told me, is a piece of cake: “You start off with a body, the coroner tells you how it died and that gives you a few suspects, and before you know where you are, you’ve done 40 pages and you’re up and running.”

A quote like that should really be printed in ironics – the backward-slanting italic typeface that both HL Mencken and Tom Driberg suggested ought to be used t...

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ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

Cathy MacPhail: Teen Queen click

Cathy MacPhail: Teen Queen

‘Yes, I hear voices, all the time, and I love it’

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Kaite Welsh’s Literary Edinburgh click

Kaite Welsh’s Literary Edinburgh

‘The Wages of Sin began as my love letter to Edinburgh, long before I thought I’d live here again’

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Introducing One Button Benny click

Introducing One Button Benny

‘Benny was different. Benny was special. Benny was a robot’

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Taking Hamlet World Wide click

Taking Hamlet World Wide

The world through the prism of Shakespeare’s universal drama

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Good News, Bad News click

Good News, Bad News

‘Clearly Brechin was satisfied that the slap comprised the necessary wicked intent. It was time for a change of tack.’

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Dìoghaltas click

Dìoghaltas

‘Chuala e mac talla a’ ghuth aige bho ballachan na seann mhuilne’

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Purrfectly Poised and Prepped for Festival Season click

Purrfectly Poised and Prepped for Festival Season

‘A long story that involves precisely one cat and one tin of tartan paint’

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Barbara Henderson’s Love Of Book Festivals click

Barbara Henderson’s Love Of Book Festivals

‘Book festivals are my thing, you see?’

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The Bookshop Detective click

The Bookshop Detective

“There she was in the distance – a big wooden ship, just like the ones pirates have. And Johnny Depp.”

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The Giant Who Snored click

The Giant Who Snored

‘This is the tale of a town far away / Where a curious story unfolded one day’

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Truestory click

Truestory

Catherine Simpson gives insight into writing Truestory’s incisive portrayal of autism

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The Damselfly click

The Damselfly

‘Puffs of air hang like clouds in front of her face. Out on the street, the sounds of sirens disappear into the distance’

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Writing En Route click

Writing En Route

Sue Reid Sexton takes us behind-the-scenes on a trip to the Midi-Pyrenees via her trusty campervan Vanessa Hotplate

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