ABERDEEN, Scotland – 1840
Return to an age where sail was being challenged by steam, new continents were opening, and the world was full of opportunities for people to be as good—or as evil—as they chose. When the body of a local shipwright is found on the beach, neither the customers and suppliers he cheated nor the women he molested are surprised. But the mystery intrigues woodcarver John Grant, who determines to seek out the truth of the killing. His work and his investigations bring him into contact with William Anderson, a rich merchant—and his daughter Elizabeth. Commissioned to create a figurehead that combines the features of two women, John eventually uncovers a sordid tale of blackmail and death as, simultaneously, he struggles to resist the pangs of unexpected love.
The Figurehead is a beautifully written murder mystery set in Aberdeen, Scotland in the mid-1800's. The author’s knowledge of ships and shipping definitely shows throughout the story. What I enjoyed most was that he took an obscure occupation – a person who carves figureheads on ships – and created an entire tale around him. The characterization was splendid, with each character, minor or major, never perfect, always leaving a shred of doubt in my mind as to their true motivations. And you’ll never guess the ending…This is story telling at its finest, written so vividly you can see the details.