The Stranger From Home by Frederic Lindsay

Frederic Lindsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 12 August 1933 but lived primarily in Edinburgh, Scotland until his death on 31 May 2013. He worked as a lecturer, teacher and library assistant until he became a full-time writer from 1979. He was active in a number of literary organisations including the Society of Authors, International PEN, which is a worldwide writers’ association promoting freedom of expression, and the Scottish Arts Council. In addition to novels Lindsay also wrote for TVfrederic lindsay radio and the theatre.

Lindsay wrote eight police procedurals amongst the thirteen novels he completed during his lifetime. These featured Detective Inspector Jim Meldrum, an officer with Lothian and Borders Police as their main protagonist. Lindsay originally intended Meldrum as a one-off study into the fate of a whistle-blower and the personal cost of integrity. But Lindsay’s publishers at the time, Hodder and Stoughton, commissioned further works and so the series was born.

Lindsay’s Meldrum books are classic police procedurals. They are dark in tone and often exploit the convention of having the identity of the perpetrator known to the reader before it becomes clear to the detectives. They feature considerable insights into the character and mental processes of the protagonist and into the effect that his work as a detective has on his personal life. This is another key feature of this genre. They also project a strong sense of place through the use of locations in Edinburgh and around Scotland and through the inclusion of distinctively Scottish speech and cultural references. Lindsay described his work on the Meldrum books as a challenge in developing a complex, rounded and psychologically interesting character within the form and conventions of the detective genre.

The Stranger From Homes was the second book by Frederic Lindsay that I had read. I enjoy this genre and lived in Edinburgh for many years, so it surprised me that it took him so long to come across my radar. He has a very individual style: strange and eerie. His writing is crisp and his story line engaging. Lindsay’s writing style means you need to be paying attention on every page or you may miss something significant.

In The Stranger From Home, DI Jim Meldrum’s daughter, Betty, moves to America from the turmoil of her life back in Edinburgh and is swept off her feet by a handsome Scottish man from back home. Their whirlwind romance quickly culminates in marriage. Bobby Conway is handsome and rich, but still a mystery man who seems to be holding back information from his new wife. He is very evasive when it comes to his past. When, Betty returns from America without her new husband. He has run off, and U.S. authorities are seeking him.

stranger from homeBack in Edinburgh, Jim Meldrum is feeling the strain of working on a high profile case. Meldum is investigating the disappearance of Rachel Croft however, her husband, Barry Croft does not seem to be very worried about it. He insists that she will be returning shortly. Jim suspects Rachel has become a victim of foul play. As Meldrum investigates Barry’s past, he uncovers facts that seem to connect this case to a number of unsolved rapes.

The author bounces back and forth between the two story lines very quickly. While there is not much of a mystery involved about the missing Rachel Croft: the plot involving Betty and her husband it is more involved. So, if you have not yet read anything by Frederic Lindsay I recommend this author to you and I hope you enjoy this book.

Valerie Penny

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