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Off Kilter (Scottish Highlands, Bk 1)
Off Kilter - Scottish Highlands, Bk 1
Author: Hannah Reed
After the recent death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, thirty-something Eden Elliott is seriously in need of a fresh start. At the urging of her best friend, bestselling author Ami Pederson, Eden decides to embark on an open-ended trip to the picturesque village of Glenkillen in the Scottish Highlands, to do some hands-on rese...  more »
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PBS Market Price: $8.09 or $4.19+1 credit
ISBN-13: 9780425265826
ISBN-10: 042526582X
Publication Date: 10/7/2014
Pages: 304
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 43 ratings
Publisher: Berkley
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

algernon99 avatar reviewed Off Kilter (Scottish Highlands, Bk 1) on + 418 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Two reasons argued that I would like this book. First, I enjoy author Hannah Reeds other cozy mystery series about a beekeeper in small-town Wisconsin. Second, I recently enjoyed a similar book by Sheila Connelly from the same publisher. In that one, an American woman at a crossroads in her life goes to Ireland to spend some time. In this one, an American woman at a crossroads in her life goes to the Scottish Highlands to spend some time. Both become embroiled in a murder. Both books, it turns out, were enjoyable and well worth your time to read.

In this book, Eden Elliott has just sold her first book proposal. She needs to write the proposed book, a romance novel set in the Scottish Highlands, so she sets off to Glenkillen, a Highlands village a friend recommended, to research and write her book. On the plane, she meets Vicki MacBride, and makes friends. Both are headed for Glenkillen.

Vicki, a Glenkillen native who has been living in America for many years, has inherited a wealthy sheep farm and wool business from her father. Unfortunately, the farm and business are being run by a half-sister and her family, who were unaccountably left out of the will. They are not happy to lose their inheritance to this upstart American half-sister, Vicki.

Vicki and her new friend Eden discover the dead body of the local sheep shearer under suspicious circumstances. Vicki is soon the primary suspect in the murder, and Eden feels the need to clear her new friends name.

The intrigue continues from there, soon involving a host of interesting characters. Theres Alec, a half-brother not involved in the sheep business. Leith is a hunky Scot that Eden soon decides to use as her novels romantic lead. Inspector Jamieson is also a romantic interest, even though Eden is sure hes going to railroad Vicki into a conviction for the murder. Kirstine, the half-sister, and her husband John run the sheep and wool business and provide a lot of sinister threat to the story. Paul Turner is the fathers attorney, who also represents Vicki, but not very well. Eden is sure hes secretly on Kirstines side and is undercutting Vickis interests. Some comic relief comes from Sean, a volunteer interning as a policeman, assigned to the Inspector. And plenty of additional people in the story provide Scottishness galore. As I think back on this cast of characters, I find myself already waxing nostalgicthey were fine characters, easy to love or hate as appropriate. I look forward to renewing acquaintances in the next book in the series.

Oh, yeah, there are also three admirable dogs and a cantankerous farm cat in the story. One of them even provides an important clue.

The book, as expected from Hannah Reed, is well written. The introductory scene effortlessly (to the reader) provides the whole set-up in just two or three pages. It was skillfully done, resulting in a lively interest in whats going to happenunless, of course, you have no patience with bookish introverts like the lead character. No, thats not likely; who else reads this kind of book? (I include myself in that category.) The mystery is skillfully crafted and presented and winds up in a satisfactory, logical conclusion.

If I had a problem with the book, it would be the frequent introspective sequences when Eden tries to think through the clues and decide who done it. For me, these passages slow things down enough for me to notice. Thats probably because I read for the story and characters, but not so much for the puzzle. I dont try to solve the mystery as we go along; I wait for the author to tell me who done it. Many mystery fans are all about solving the mystery themselves; for them these passages considering the clues are all-important. Balancing those needs is a real challenge for a mystery author.

One last unimportant but fun comment: the Scots language (English, of course) is full of interesting expressions. Eden encounters a lot of them. The author generally lets us know, one way or another, what the more mystifying expressions mean. There was one early on that lead me a merry chase. Leith says that none of them will cry baurley-fummil. Eden says that the barley part flew right past her, but she was sure it probably didnt involve grain. Then we get no more clues.

Thank goodness for Google. It took some doing, but I finally found an explanation in an e-book pdf file of a 19th century Scottish legal book. (I just tried it again, and it was easier for some reason.) Anyway, it means to call for a truce in wrestlinglike crying uncle for most of us American folks.

So what do all these observations add up to? Off Kilter is a pleasant book with elements of romance, a good, solid mystery, and a lot of education about what an American might think of the Scottish Highlands. I really enjoyed it. Bring on book #2!
cathyskye avatar reviewed Off Kilter (Scottish Highlands, Bk 1) on + 2260 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I simply had to read this first book in the Scottish Highlands cozy series because of its setting. Although I never did quite figure out where Glenkillen is supposed to be, I certainly enjoyed my vicarious trip to an area I love so much.

This first book sets the series up well. Everything about the murder is leading us to believe that the evildoers are Vicki's half sister and her brother-in-law, but sooner or later readers are going to wonder if that solution is a bit too obvious. Or could it be meant to look obvious? Hmm.... I began to wonder about that from the beginning and found the solution rather easy to deduce, but I was enjoying watching Eden Elliott try to adjust to the Highlands too much to care. (Which goes to show that there's always more to crime fiction than the answer to whodunnit.)

Eden is thirty-eight. After caring for her mother for so long, she's not flighty and she has common sense. I wouldn't say that she's all that mechanically inclined with her talk of "whatchamacallits," "thingamabobs," and "doohickeys," and it puzzled me that she didn't do a little bit of research before she headed off on her first-ever trip outside the U.S. For example, she flies into Inverness where she picks up a rental car to drive to Glenkillen. Only then does she learn that you have to reserve a car that has automatic transmission-- and those cars are at a premium. Being stuck learning a stick shift at the very same time that you're trying to remember to drive on the opposite side of the road and navigate roundabouts is not a recipe for success. The bright spot in all this is that a handsome Scotsman comes to her rescue when she becomes stranded.

The further along Eden gets in her investigation, she finds herself with two handsome Scotsmen giving her the eye, and I have to admit that-- although I'm not much for romance in my reading-- Eden's two men are the best romantic interests I've encountered in a long time. (I may not care for romance in my books, but I'm not dead.) And as far as that investigation goes, my liking for Eden increased because she kept the detective inspector handling the case in the loop with everything she finds. That inspector happens to be saddled with a particularly annoying special constable, and his attempts to avoid the young man not only become a running joke in the book, the situation also has Eden becoming more involved with the local people and the community.

At the beginning of Off Kilter, that little village of Glenkillen had me worried because when Eden first comes on the scene, it's definitely a case of us (the villagers) versus her (Eden), but as they all get to know each other better, this changes, which is a very good thing for the book and for the series.

Off Kilter has definitely "primed my pump" (so to speak) for more books in this series, and I'm also secretly hoping that Eden has to make a trip to certain areas of Glasgow, where the Scottish accent really is almost impossible to understand!
reviewed Off Kilter (Scottish Highlands, Bk 1) on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Eden has been through a rough year full of emotions as she looses her mother to MS and goes through a divorce. Her good friend Ami decides Eden needs a change a scenery. A chance to get away, collect her thoughts, maybe discover what they actually do wear under those kilts and hopefully gather some inspiration to complete the novel she is working on writing. Ami books an open ended trip for Eden to visit the quaint village of Glenkillen, Scotland. The countryside is breathtaking, the sheep are numerous and there's a ton of cultural challenges for the American to get acquainted with. The first friend she makes is Vicki MacBride. Vicki is the heiress to her late father's farm, but finds herself in quite a family feud over her inheritance. Things quickly get interesting when Eden and Vicki stumble upon a murder scene, start getting framed for several crimes and find their lives in serious danger!

This was a pleasant good start to a new series. I've enjoyed Reed's Queen Bee series and was anxious to try this one out since I like her writing style. This one definitley didn't disappoint. The characters are an eclectic bunch, the setting is unique and the mystery was well paced. I really liked the main character. She is smart, witty and just seems relatable. I loved reading about her challenges when it came to driving, trying new cuisine and deciphering the local dialect. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and watching a few of the characters and storylines progress.
englishmaven avatar reviewed Off Kilter (Scottish Highlands, Bk 1) on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Novelist Eden Elliott travels to the Scottish Highlands for relaxing writing time. What is gets instead is mixed up in the murder of a local sheep shearer. As she learns about Scottish culture, Eden also learns that everything about the colorful locals is not as it seems. She makes new friends and a few enemies as she snoops around the village and the hills looking for clues.

Eden also meets a handsome Scot who looks really hunky in his kilt. He teaches her how to drive a stick shift and maneuver some of the differences in the two English languages. Her new friend Vicky might not be exactly who she seems either. Is she the killer?

Eden is accused of setting fire to the inn where she's staying, but the drunkard innkeeper won't believe that she's innocent and evicts her. She goes to stay with Vicky and is in arm's reach of Kirstine and John Derry--locals who will might do anything to hang on to their land.

I loved this book. It was fairly fast moving; the characters are lovely and real; the descriptions of the Highlands are vivid. There's animals in the story, which is always a plus. There were just enough red herrings to keep me guessing. I'm going to read the next one.
Read All 4 Book Reviews of "Off Kilter Scottish Highlands Bk 1"

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