on July 22, 2014 :
This is a very nice "Let's escape from the soul-sucking modern urban world and move back to wild nature" story. My enjoyment of it was likely enhanced because I was at home in an urban area when I began it and ended it just after spending a day rambling in rural Orkney.
But unlike the protagonist, I rather enjoy cities and find a lot in them that's vibrant, alive, and hopeful. I also love the outdoors and nature, so I could appreciate the pull of wild moors, breathtakingly beautiful mountains, and crystal lochs. In trying to decide whether I liked this book by Michael Graeme enough to give it four or five stars, I had to consider whether I was being objective, or mildly resentful for portraying cities as "grey", "soul-less", and lacking of meaningful human interaction. And though protagonist Scott Matthews was generally referring to London and Glasgow of the 1980s (the settings of much of the book), there was enough universalizing that I occasionally muttered to him, "Then move already, damn it, and stop whining! It's obvious that you're going to".
The Singing Loch has a very nice narrative flow, well-drawn characters, and lovely descriptions of rural Scotland. It has just enough romance to give it a little charm, but not enough to detract from the more interesting tension between humans and their place in nature, and the competing interests of corporations and individuals where land use is concerned. I was all set to give it a five, but at the last minute switched to a four. That's not because of the (relatively minor) typos or the fact that I'd pretty much worked out the mystery on my own before the reveal. It's a free book currently on Smashwords, so I won't quibble on those. (And the typos are simply that and not grammatical atrocities; the author is obviously a good writer.) It's just that the city-lover in me found the last bit a little simplistic and preachy in its exhortation to humanity. I agree with much of what it said, but as I said earlier, I might have been a little annoyed on behalf of cities and their own bit of wild life. In any case, I liked it very much and recommend it.
(review of free book)