"The Other Monarch of The Glen" by Peter Kerr is an enjoyable romp, largely set in a fictional corner of the Highland landscape surrounding Loch Ness. The significance of the main elements of the quirky cover only becomes obvious as you follow the strands of an engaging plot, but less immediately obvious parts of the design do give you a very clear idea of the journey you are about to embark upon. The strap line at the foot of the front cover proclaims the book to be "A Humour-Laced Highland Fling", while at the head of the blurb on the rear cover the book is described as "A Quirky Caledonian Caper". Both are correct. The setting is modern, but the feel of the book is reminiscent of an Ealing comedy, played artfully and very effectively for laughs. The characters, like "Lord Strathsporran the chinless-wonder laird of a Highland estate" are in some ways less characters than caricatures, but that's not a criticism. As the name-choice makes clear the author is aiming for "larger than life" and he certainly succeeds.
As you read the book it's easy to start to believe that the story itself is in some ways secondary to interactions between the main characters, but a nicely intriguing plot does increasingly asserts itself as the book progresses. As the blurb on the rear cover says, "Lord Strathsporran... plays host to a motley mix of international guests who are paying sweetly to join him on a grouse-shoot. Fortune favours the devious when the seriously skint laird and two of his visitors juggle their disparate skills to pull off what promises to be an extremely lucrative scam. But lucrative for whom? Chicanery stalks the turrets of Strathsporran Castle. And there's even a sighting of at least one Loch Ness monster when the tangled threads of this offbeat drama finally unravel."
There are some very nice twists and turns as the story develops and we found ourselves coming to the end wanting more. This is in many ways a good thing: it shows how much we enjoyed the book. But we did emerge with a slight sense that between the covers of this fairly short novel the author had everything he needed in terms of people, place and plot to take his readers on a rather more extensive journey. Perhaps we're wrong. Either way, "The Other Monarch of The Glen" is a book that succeeds in getting its reader to keep on turning pages enthusiastically, with more than a few laughs on the way.