"Children of the Mist" by Douglas Skelton is the fifth in his series of Rebecca Connolly thrillers. Rebecca is enjoying a well-earned break to coincide with her birthday in Highland Perthshire with her boyfriend Stephen. But journalism is at the very root of Rebecca's being and she can never entirely switch off. In this case she's chosen the location of the holiday so that she can talk to a possible interviewee for a TV documentary about online fraud. Quite by chance she finds herself witnessing a memorial service taking place in the historic Black Wood of Rannoch on the quiet southern shore of Loch Rannoch. Intrigued, she starts to talk to people and ask questions: often very unwelcome questions.
It transpires that the service she saw was to mark the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Fergus MacGregor. On that day, five years earlier, Fergus had told people he was going to meet someone in Pitlochry, though we know from the opening chapter he actually went to the Black Wood to meet and then elope with his girlfriend Shona. We also know that Shona didn't make the meeting: someone else did instead.
But five years on, Fergus is becoming a steadily more distant memory to everyone except his immediate family. The numbers attending the annual memorial service are diminishing year on year and all that really remains of Fergus is an enduring mystery. Could he have simply disappeared without trace: and without his car, which was found parked near the Black Wood of Rannoch? As Rebecca digs deeper it seems that there may be people who know much more than they are telling: but they are certainly not going to confide in her. And as she gets drawn into the mystery she seems to be risking her relationship with Stephen and much more besides.
Douglas Skelton is a master of the art of misdirection and his skill shines through beautifully here. The reader - this reader certainly - spent quite some time wondering where the story was going and why the author had chosen to give quite so much of it away so early in the book. It's only as the story moves towards its climax that you begin to appreciate that all may not necessarily be what it appears to be. "Children of the Mist" is an enjoyable read that has some very nice twists and turns as it moves towards its conclusion. This book is perfect for anyone planning to spend a quiet summer holiday in a cottage in Highland Perthshire: or in Rebecca's case, not such a quiet one.