– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –
Title: Love Potions and Other Calamities
Publication Date: November 7th, 2019
Welcome to the strange world of Rosie McLeod, an amateur detective with a big difference. Her deductive powers are based solely on the careful preparation and use of plants and herbs.
Love Potions and Other Calamities is pure comedy, with a bit of drama thrown in, as Rosie sets out to discover whether her husband is having an affair and, as the story unfolds, to solve a murder – before she becomes the next victim.
Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of some renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just. The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn’t laid a lustful hand on her for months.
She has the fortune, or misfortune, to live in one of Scotland’s most famous places – the East Lothian village of Holy Cross, which takes its name from the legendary Glastonbury Cross that was spirited away – and subsequently lost – when Henry VIII purged the English monasteries. The cross of pale Welsh gold, reputedly buried within the village, had at its centre a fragment of emerald from the Holy Grail. The story is, of course, complete baloney.
But the association with the Holy Grail and the later witch persecutions of James VI mean that the village is as well known around the world as Edinburgh Castle, haggis or Loch Ness. It has been described as “the heartbeat of Scotland” and is a major tourist destination – many of whom visit the village with metal detectors, hoping to discover the elusive cross.
However, a sighting of a large, black cat by the local Church of Scotland minister sets off a chain of events that lead back twenty years and, although the villagers are blissfully unaware of it, to a woman’s murder. The black cat had last been sighted near the village some two decades before, and the minister’s predecessor was sure that it had triggered something evil. The villagers, of course, think otherwise.
Nothing ever happens in Holy Cross.
About the Author :
I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.
I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.
I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.
Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.
‘Love Potions and Other Calamities’ by Charlie Laidlaw is a quirky read to say the least.
It’s a story about a little village in Scotland with some very interesting characters and one big, mysterious black cat!
Speaking of them, I’m not sure if I love Rosie, the main character, who thinks turning forty is the end of her life.
She’s a bit too whiny and attention seeking for my taste I guess, but she certainly the cataclysm for everything funny that happened in the book.
So I guess she can stay, but I don’t want to be around when she turns fifty. 😉
I think it’s also fair to say that this book wasn’t really what I expected from reading the blurb as it was more a story about life in a village than a real mystery novel.
I had the feeling that the latter was almost added on to fit the genre somehow.
It wasn’t, in my opinion, a necessary add as the characters and the history about the village and the herbal parts were interesting enough to be a plot / story on their own.
I mean it’s fairly obvious how much research Charlie has done whilst and before writing this book on these topics.
That’s the main reason I read this book I believe as I was very intrigued and impressed with the details of the history about witches, the village and herbs and what not.
Very well done from the author!
This together with his writing style makes it, for me at least, an unique story, which may not have been completely my cup of tea, but was more than worth my reading time.
So I guess I’d recommend the book to everyone who likes a bit of experimental reading.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds