Review: Death of a Highland Heavyweight, by Jayne E. Self

Death of a Highland Heavyweight cover artDeath of a Highland Heavyweight, by Jayne E. Self (Harbourlight Books, 2012)

Gailynn MacDonald designs artisan jewellery and works as a medical receptionist in the small seaside town of Hum Harbour, Nova Scotia. She’s perky, impulsive, and afraid of the ocean. And she can’t seem to stop getting involved in murder investigations.

She doesn’t go looking for them, but she does walk the beach each day looking for bits of seaglass to use in her jewellery. That’s how she found the first body (Mystery in Hum Harbour), and it’s what now brings her within earshot of screams from Hunter Hall.

Heavyweight champion Claude Oui (affectionately dubbed “Wee Claude” because of his large size) lies dead in the Hall, his wife Carrie Hunter-Oui helplessly trying CPR.

Claude suffered from post-concussion syndrome, and Gailynn’s fiancé Geoff, the town’s doctor, is afraid he missed a clue that could have saved the gentle giant’s life. Or did Claude trip on the stairs? Or fall victim to the burglar who stole some of Carrie’s collection of frog ornaments?

This last frightens Gailynn most of all, since her young cousin Ashleigh’s boyfriend has been stealing other frog ornaments as gifts. Josh seems like such a nice guy. But what if he’s a murderer?

Gailynn tries to leave the murder investigation to her police officer brother and his team, but she can’t help her suspicions. And she can’t stop asking questions, even though she’s supporting the grieving Carrie (including chairing the Hum Harbour Daze committee) and trying to plan her own wedding.

Death of a Highland Heavyweight is a cozy mystery with a strong sense of place and with characters who could be ordinary people like you or me. Well, not the athletes, but Gailynn, Geoff, Ashleigh and their families are everyday people.

I like Gailynn, with her kind heart, gentle spirit and overactive imagination. I like Geoff, too. He’s a decent man. And I like reading stories set in my home province. Locals like me can hear little things in the dialogue that authenticate Jayne Self’s right to write about us. This was true in Murder in Hum Harbour too. She knows this setting, despite living “away”, and that knowledge adds depth.

I also like the humour. It’s dry, understated, and slips in when you least expect it, adding yet another thread of pleasure to the story. I hope there’ll be a Seaglass Mysteries #3 in the works soon.

Visit Jayne E. Self’s website for more information on the author and her books. You can also find her on Facebook and at Canadian Christians Who Write, where she does regular interviews (including one with me).

[Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair review.]

4 thoughts on “Review: Death of a Highland Heavyweight, by Jayne E. Self

  1. Jayne

    Thanks Janet. I was thrilled beyond measure when Murder in Hum Harbour won the 2012 Christian Writing Award for best mystery. I hope people enjoy Death of a Highland Heavyweight as much.

    1. Janet Sketchley

      Congratulations again, Jayne! As a reader, I felt Death of a Highland Heavyweight carried through on the promise of Murder in Hum Harbour. Sometimes the second book doesn’t feel as strong, but this one does. Looking forward to a third one!


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