Monday, September 23, 2019

Coming Through the Thistles – and a GoodReads Giveaway!

Image from Pixabay

by Janet Marsh
from the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, by Molly MacRae

Goals are good, right? Mine, this morning, was to ride my bike at least as far as the Beaton Bridge. In my prairie-flat, Illinois hometown, that wouldn’t be much of a goal.  But here in the Scottish Highlands, where for every hill you glide down, you groan your way up two?

By the time I reached the old stone bridge outside Inversgail (my new hometown), I didn’t think I’d stay standing if I got off the bike. My legs felt like a quivering blancmange. I stopped at the crown of the span, close to the lichen-covered wall, and leaned myself and my bike against it. The top of the wall was a perfect height for me to rest my elbow on, and I was glad for the strength of the rough, cool granite. It was also the only thing keeping me from toppling into the burn below. I chanced a look over the side to see where I’d go if I did topple. Headfirst onto rocks the size of Shetland ponies and Highland cattle.

I made myself focus on the gurgling water instead, letting my eyes follow the burn wending its whisky-colored way beyond the rocks and between banks of frost-killed thistles. There were more rocks farther along. But rocks on their own aren’t threatening. Except—what was that?

On the nearside of the burn, near the largest nonthreatening rock—what was that in the thistles? A bike wheel? And beyond the wheel, half in the burn—plastic? A bag? Cloth. A sleeve, an arm. Not moving.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay
I cupped my hands and called, “Hello along the burn!” There was no answer, no movement. I thought for a moment and then climbed off my bike, my legs not at all like jelly. Maybe I’d exaggerated their distress. I walked the bike back off the bridge, losing sight of the sleeve and the other bike’s wheel, and looked along the embankment for a way down to the creek.

There was no clear path, but I leaned my bike against the bridge and then, calling, “Hello! Hello!” even louder, I picked my way downward. The burn continued its gurgle. A curlew cried. No one answered my calls. When I reached the burn and started along its bank, I took my phone from the pack at my waist.

I came upon the bike first, its rear mudguard knocked sideways. Then the man—crumpled. I didn’t know him. He’d been wearing a helmet. It hadn’t saved his neck, though, and it was clear he would never be able to tell me how he came to be there.

I said, “Hello,” again, softly, as I knelt to feel for a pulse. His skin was as cold as the rock I stumbled backward to and sat down on.

I pressed three nines on my phone—the police emergency number—and looked back up toward the road. How had he managed to lose control so completely and end up all the way down here?

“A man,” I said when the dispatcher answered. “Older, but not elderly. He and his bike came off the road.” I held back tears, wondering where they’d come from, and answered the dispatcher’s questions about where and who and how. “He must have flown down the bank and then came off his bike. And then the rocks. Or first the rocks. I don’t know which, but he hit his head or broke his neck. Or both. Yes, I am sure. He is dead. Yes, I can do that. I’ll stand by the bridge so you’ll see where.”

Before I climbed up to the road, I went back to stand over the man whose tweed blended in with the thistles. One of his hands lay in the burn palm upward, fingers curled and cupping the water like an offering.

The women of Yon Bonnie Books return in the latest Highland Bookshop Mystery, now embroiled in the death of a local doctor, which sets off a chain of other curious—and deadly—events.

Enter the goodreads giveaway for your chance to win THISTLES AND THIEVES, the “charming new entry in this beloved series.

Molly MacRae writes the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, connect with her on Twitter  or Instagram.


  1. I had to change my security code apparently. I would love to read her new book. I already followed her on Facebook, and I even went on Goodreads. I'm not sure I actually was able to apply for the giveaway. Yeah I'm not quite up on these things

  2. To tell the truth, I'm not all that up on these things, either. I've never actually signed up for a giveaway in goodreads, so I don't know the ins and outs. I hope you were successful!

  3. I've signed up for Goodreads' giveaways before and there is usually a couple boxes to check and such. I would love to read Thistles and Thieves if this form works. Thanks for the chance.

  4. Okay, FYI, I went to the Goodreads website and typed in the name of the book and was able to enter the giveaway there.

  5. for some reason I could not enter on Goodreads queenvictoria50(at) aol. (com)

    1. Bummer. Sorry about that, Georgia. The giveaway is open until October 19. Maybe try again later?

  6. I guess because I use Goodreads all the time I had no trouble entering. The book sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing and for mentioning the Goodreads giveaway.

  7. Thank you for the heads up on the Goodreads giveaway.

    Can't wait for the opportunity to read "THISTLES AND THIEVES".
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  8. I had to type in the name of the Book but it went right to it.

  9. Looking forward to "Thistles and Thieves"!
    rebarger at bellsouth dot net

  10. I just keep getting I want to read it page.