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Shona MacLean will rewrite her history for follow-up to final Seeker novel

By Margaret Chrystall

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EVEN tucked away at a writer’s desk, the real world gets in – and it is one reason historical crime writer Shona MacLean has changed her plans for which book she will write next.

But first, there was the launch last week of The House Of Lamentations, the final book in her historical crime fiction series set in Oliver Cromwell’s times featuring fixer ‘The Seeker’.

The story takes him to the world of Bruges, where readers will bid farewell to him at the end of a tantalising mystery that pits the wits of Captain Damian Seeker against a set of enemies both ruthless and violent – determined to foil his efforts.

But in 1658, the political world of Cromwell and the fortunes of the Stuart dynasty are shifting.

Shona MacLean moves on to a new scenario for next book – closer to home. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon
Shona MacLean moves on to a new scenario for next book – closer to home. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon

For Shona, saying goodbye to her forthright hero, is it going to be tough? And is it the end?

“Certainly for now it is the last one. I won’t say that I will never go back in the future because there are lots of ways of going back to a series. You don’t need to do it chronologically. Or you can go to a different character and make them the focus …”

So the doors are open for possibilities which is perhaps a less painful thought for readers who have learned to love the no-nonsense Yorkshireman.

And for Shona there is a slightly less predictable next move when she gets back behind her desk.

The next project set in Cromarty is now on hold.

She explained: “I’ve written 25,000 words of it and I did spend months working on it. I had notes going back over a few years.

“And since I finished The House Of Lamentations, I had been working on the Cromarty book, with umpteen notebooks and folders. It was set in 1831/2 when there was a cholera epidemic and I was writing it when lockdown started.

“I found I didn’t want to write it - and I didn’t think that people would want to read it. But I carried on, finding it quite difficult.

“I had some conversations with my editor and I hadn’t intended the book to be a murder story, more a historical novel. So it would have meant a change of genre for me.

“I decided it was just the wrong time in publishing for me to change the genre I write in.

“It’s the wrong time for me to jump ship from being a historical crime writer to being something else!”

The House Of Lamentation, the final book in The Seeker series.
The House Of Lamentation, the final book in The Seeker series.

Also, Shona has perhaps been sent a message as she has been nominated again for the CWA (Crime Writers Association) Awards and she is up for two ‘daggers’ this year, the historical crime writing award, which she won last year for earlier Seeker book The Bear Pit – but also the gold award for best crime book.

Luckily, there is an alternative plan for her next book. And it lies almost as close to home for the Conon Bridge writer as Cromarty!

“There had been another idea flittering about at the back of my mind as I was thinking about the Cromarty one. I talked to my editor about that and she really liked it.

“So what I have started working on – I am at the very early stages – is a story set in the 18th century about a bookseller in Inverness. There will be murders and there will be spies and there will be old Jacobites out for revenge!”

The House Of Lamentations by SG MacLean – the last book in The Seeker historical crime fiction series set in the time of Oliver Cromwell is out now in hardback (Quercus, £20) and is also available in ebook copies and on audio. A limited number of signed copies of the book are available at Picaresque Books in Dingwall.

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