At the beginning of this month we published a blog to announce the new series by Shirley McKay 1588: A Calendar of Crime featuring Hew Cullan, to celebrate its launch we have a guest blog from the author herself to explain a little more about the series.
1588: A Calendar of Crime:
1588 is inspired by the old almanacs, with their prognostications, frequently of doom. At a time when all was governed by the elements, this year in particular was a portentous one: a partial eclipse of the sun and two total lunar eclipses, staining the March sky blood red, while the gathering storm of the Spanish Armada, threatening to eclipse the English way of life, cast its long shadow over Scotland too.
For Hew Cullan and his friends in St Andrews, the high days of the calendar acquire a deadly resonance. Murder will out, ensuring no one here will have a quiet life. There are five separate stories, one for each of the four Scottish term days –Candlemas in February, Whitsunday in May, Lammas in August and November’s Martinmas – with a fifth in December for Yule. At Candlemas, a candlemaker’s lifeblood ebbs away. At a Whitsunday visit, havoc is unleashed, and at the fair at Lammastide, love’s young dream is lost. A Hallowmas ghost reappears, in the course of the Martinmas term, while the keeping of Christmas is doomed, in the last tolling bells of the Yule. No comfort to be found in the rhythms of the year as portents are played out.
Chronologically, 1588: A Calendar of Crime follows Queen & Country, and familiar characters appear. For Hew Cullan fans, the stories are designed to reward careful reading of the earlier books, but for those new to the series, each one should stand alone, and I hope present a satisfying mystery. I’m hugely excited about the ebook publication of the first story, Candlemas: the ebook format suits the episodic nature of the whole, following the pattern of the quarter days. But I’m excited too about the print edition of the compilation – with a cover promising to be truly beautiful – later on this year. This is a new departure for me, and crafting five complete and self-contained short mysteries, loosely interlinked, is proving both a challenge and a joy.
The eBook is available now form all good online retailers.