Today I am absolutely thrilled to be hosting Lin Anderson’s Time For The Dead blog tour. My review for this book will be up on Sept 19th when I’ll have Lin back again on my blog as part of the Morecambe & Vice blog tour just before I get to chat LIVE on stage with Lin at the festival. You can find details about that and book your tickets here: https://www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk/copy-of-partners-in-crime
Characters are a big part of my reading experience, so I asked Lin if she could talk to me a bit about characters and the influence they have in her novels/how they influence her plots! But before we get to that, let’s find out a bit about the author and her fabulous book!
About the Author
Lin Anderson is a Scottish novelist and screenwriter best known for her bestselling series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod of which there are currently fourteen novels, four of which have been long listed for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist.
Lin is co-founder of the international crime writing festival Bloody Scotland which takes place annually in Stirling, Scotland, mid September.
About the Book
When forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod returns to her roots on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, a chance encounter in the woods behind a nearby activities centre leads her to what seems to be a crime scene, but without a victim. Could this be linked to a group of army medics, who visited the centre while on leave from Afghanistan and can no longer be located on the island?
Enlisting the help of local tracker dog Blaze, Rhona starts searching for a connection.
As the island’s unforgiving conditions close in, Rhona must find out what really happened to the group in Afghanistan, as the consequences may be being played out in brutal killings on Skye . . .
Dr Rhona MacLeod, forensic scientist was inspired by a former Maths pupil of mine, Emma Hart, who is from my home village of Carrbridge in the Highlands, and went off to study Forensics at Strathclyde University.
At the time the world of forensics hadn’t hit the screen with CSI, few people knew what it was about, including myself. However when Emma came home from university, she talked with great enthusiasm about the subject.
My father was a DI in Greenock Police, and he had three daughters. When he retired after 25 years he brought his family to live in Carrbridge. Only now do I understand his fears for his teenage daughters during his years as a detective. One of those fears was that he might turn up at a scene of crime to find one of his girls was a victim.
That fear gave rise to the first in the series Driftnet, where Rhona turns up at a scene of crime only to discover the teenage victim resembles her so closely she thinks he might be the son she gave up for adoption seventeen years before.
She soon discovers he isn’t but the thought that he might have been propels her to search for her son at the same time as the police search for the killer.
At the time I wasn’t sure in what capacity she would be there, then suddenly thought, if I’m making it a woman why not make her a forensic scientist like Emma? Thus was my protagonist born.
I knew nothing at that point about forensic science, but I set about finding out. Initially there were few books on the subject widely available, so I relied on Emma, by then working with the Met in London, to keep me right.
I enjoyed the forensic world so much, I went back to my old university of Glasgow and did a Diploma in Forensic Medical Science.
Rhona is at the heart of all the novels. A complex character, a true professional, but not without her flaws. We see most of the investigation through her eyes.
However the little gang of characters that surround her are also important. Chrissy, her sidekick was inspired by a well-loved character, Miss Toner from the Scottish drama series Tutti-Frutti. Audiences always laugh when I tell them that because they instantly recognise the resemblance.
Where Rhona is private and reticent about revealing her personal feelings, Chrissy is a gallous Glasgow girl who says exactly what she thinks, regarding herself and Rhona. Plus she’s great fun and doesn’t take life too seriously.
DI Wilson is based on my dad. Rhona’s mentor, he has two teenage children who he worries about, just like my father did, and a wife who is is definitely his prime support, much like my mum was to my father. And when things get bad, he confides in her and takes refuge in his family life. Something he would like Rhona to have.
Rhona, however is more of a loner and likes her own company. Sean, Rhona’s part time lover is much more important in her life than she gives him credit for.
As for DS McNab, he and Rhona go back a long way and have faced horrific situations together. He will always watch her back, and she his, although the way he works drives her to distraction at times.
Completing the gang is Professor Magnus Pirie, an Orcadian criminal profiler. I lived and worked in Orkney earlier in my career as a teacher. Magnus was inspired by the farmer Geordie Pirie who we stayed with when we first arrived. He was a great storyteller plus he had a wonderful insight into the psychology of people’s actions.
So, Rhona is at the heart of every book in the series, but depending on the context, one or more of her supporting cast steps forward to play their part.
In the latest book in the series, Time for the Dead, Rhona has returned to her roots in Skye to recover from her horrific experiences during Sins of the Dead. In reality she is suffering from PTSD but refusing to go to the police recovery centre Castlebrae, believing that taking extended leave on Skye will save her.
With none of the gang around, Rhona remakes old friendships on the island and some new, in particular with Blaze, a search and rescue Border Collie who, seeming to understand her state of mind, befriends her.
When Rhona discovers what looks like a crime scene without a victim near to Blaze’s home, the collie becomes her forensic assistant in solving what has happened there and how it relates to a group of army medics recently returned from Afghanistan.
Absolutely LOVE this guest post and a huge thanks to Lin and her publicity team for making it happen! I can’t wait to get reading Time for the Dead especially after seeing what some of my favourite bloggers have said about it so far! Why not check them out here: