MYSTERY
Maggie Foster
The Swick and the Dead: Loch Lonach Mysteries: Book Two

Maggie Mysteries
Paperback, 978-0-9989-8581-7, 468 pgs., $11.99
December 20, 2018

 

The Swick and the Dead is book two in Maggie Foster’s clever and imaginative Loch Lonach Mysteries series, and the odd word in the title, “swick,” has a double meaning. In recent slang, swick mashes together “sweet” and “sick” to refer to something “cool” or “excellent” or “pleasant.” In old Scottish, however, swik (and similar spellings) referred to something much darker: deceit or a deceiver.

 

Book one, The Arms of Death, released in fall 2018, introduced Maggie Foster’s amateur sleuth, Ginny Foster, a Scottish nurse who works in the intensive care unit of Hillcrest Regional Medical Center, a Dallas hospital. When one of her ICU patients suddenly dies, Ginny tries to figure out why and soon finds herself involved in helping the police try to solve a murder case. She also discovers that a centuries-old Scottish secret is involved.

 

In book two, set just a few months after book one ends, Ginny again is working an ICU shift, trying to keep a patient alive. But another ICU nurse is brutally murdered during Ginny’s shift, and Ginny at first is considered a suspect. Once she is cleared, the Dallas police become aware of her previous help. They ask her to be a consulting detective and help them find the killer, who still may be working at the hospital.

 

For this series, the author has created an entire Scottish suburban city, Loch Lonach, in the Dallas area. To keep it realistic, she has drawn upon her Scottish family roots and travels to Scotland, her education, work history, and imagination. She also has worked as a nurse, lawyer, and teacher.

 

As she describes Loch Lonach, it is “a Scottish community established, before Texas became a republic, in the geographic region that would become Dallas. It has retained its culture and identity. Loch Lonach boasts its own schools, police force, churches, and other civic institutions. The head of the community is the Laird, currently Angus Mackenzie.”

 

After a drug cartel’s links to the hospital murder are discovered and other dangers erupt, Ginny finds herself being closely protected, at the Laird’s insistence, by her second cousin Fergus Stewart. He’s a modern-day gallóglaigh, or Scottish mercenary, now serving as an armed bodyguard. His presence initially puts a crimp in Ginny’s investigation and in her burgeoning romance with an emergency-room physician, Jim Mackenzie, grandson of the aging Laird.
Ginny also makes some novice mistakes in her choices of suspects, almost gets Jim killed, and loses confidence in her skills. Can her sense of logic and justice overcome these setbacks and help lead her to the real killer?   

 

Maggie Foster’s Scots practice many of Scotland’s customs and superstitions. They do not overuse their brogue, but a few words in their dialogue may be unfamiliar. Wisely, she includes a glossary of Scottish terms and definitions (and a few Texian words, as well) in her books.

 

The Swick and the Dead and the Loch Lonach Mysteries series offer fresh, entertaining twists on Texas murder mystery tales.