Cover image for Highland laddie gone
Highland laddie gone
McCrumb, Sharyn, 1948-
Personal Author:
First Ballantine Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1991.

Physical Description:
209 pages ; 18 cm
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published by Avon Books, 1986.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

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"Sharyn McCrumb transforms mystery into astonishing literature."-- The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson gets a chance to revel in the rites of the old country at the annual Glencoe Mountain Games, the Scottish festival where several hundred like-minded Americans celebrate their ancestors' folkways. But the innocent ethnic fair is cursed when the loathed Colin Campbell is found murdered.

Then a second murder silences everyone's bagpipes for good. Enter Elizabeth, who make short work of her search for motive and murderer.

"I had a great time at Sharyn McCrumb's inimitable version of the Highland games."--Charlotte MacLeod

Author Notes

Sharyn McCrumb was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on February 26, 1948. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech. Her novels include the Elizabeth MacPherson series and the Ballad series. St. Dale won a 2006 Library of Virginia Award and the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award. Ghost Riders won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature and the Audie Award for Best Recorded Book. She has received numerous awards for her work including the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Award, the Perry F. Kendig Award for Achievement in Literary Arts, the Chaffin Award for Southern Literature, and the Plattner Award for Short Story. In 2014, she received the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature by North Carolina's Chowan University.

(Bowker Author Biography)



CHAPTER ONE   "There! I told you we weren't lost!" said Elizabeth MacPherson, slapping the steering wheel. "Look at the bumper sticker on that car."   Her cousin Geoffrey assumed an expression of world-weary disdain. "The one that says: Do it with a Piper?"   "Yes. Meaning bagpipes. They must be on their way to the Scottish festival."   "Or perhaps to an exterminators' convention. One can but hope," sighed Geoffrey.   "You promised you were going to behave," Elizabeth reminded him.   "If our theatre group weren't producing Brigadoon next spring, you would never have got me to come."   "I know, Geoffrey," said Elizabeth sweetly. "But you were my second choice for someone to go with."   "Oh? And who was your first choice?"   Elizabeth shrugged. "Just anybody."   She continued to follow the blue station wagon along Virginia Highway 42, looking for signs announcing the Western Virginia Highland Games. Why did I want someone to come with me, Elizabeth wondered. Is it a holdover from the old days when a woman alone was a wallflower? She stole a glance at Geoffrey, who had gone back to reading the playscript. She had better make some effort to stay on good terms with him for the weekend: Geoffrey was known for his skill at subtle revenge.   "It will be nice to have you along," she admitted. "These Scottish gatherings tend to be mostly families and old men. Unattached young men will be at a premium."   Geoffrey struck a pose. "Young men like me would be at a premium in heaven, my dear."   Elizabeth nodded. "There will be very few of you there, if that's what you mean."   "It sounds like a senior citizens' costume party. Whatever did you want to come for?"   "It can be a lot of fun. I used to come every year until I went off to college. Once I got third place in the country dancing."   "Just the two of you competing, I suppose?" asked Geoffrey solemnly.   Elizabeth sighed. "Should we keep score this weekend?"   "I think not. Your best bet is an unconditional surrender. Now, to get back to this Highland fling you've dragged me to: I hope I am not expected to wear a kilt."   "No. Lots of people wear ordinary clothes."   "I could never be accused of that," Geoffrey assured her, smoothing his yellow poplin slacks. "That reminds me. I did bring along something to get into the spirit of things."   He reached into the pocket of his navy blue blazer and drew out a red and green plaid necktie. "There! Now, how do you say tacky in Gaelic?"   Elizabeth glanced at the tie, swerved the car, and fixed her eyes firmly on the road again. "You're not going to wear that," she informed him.   "Why not? I thought it was rather fetching. Though not perhaps with yellow slacks."   "It's the Royal Stewart tartan, Geoffrey."   He clutched the tie to his chest. "Possession is nine-tenths of the law!"   "Idiot. I mean, it's the plaid of the Scottish royal family. No one but them is supposed to wear it."   "Then there must be an awful lot of them, because I see it on stadium blankets, dog coats--"   "I know, but remember that this is a Scottish festival, where they enforce rules like that. At least, Dr. Campbell does."   "Who?"   "If we're lucky he won't be here this year. But I doubt if wild horses could keep him away. He's the president of the local chapter of Clan Campbell, and he is the most exasperating old grouch alive! He's a stickler for Scottish etiquette, and an absolute bore about family trees."   "Not unlike yourself, in fact," Geoffrey observed.   "You are not wearing that tie, Geoffrey," Elizabeth replied calmly. "If you want to join in, you can wear a MacPherson tie; or you can find out if the Chandlers were affiliated with any clan; but wear the Royal Stewart you may not. I won't be seen with anyone doing that. Or wearing Campbell colors, of course."   "What are Campbell colors? Purple and orange?"   "The tartan, I mean. You can't be a Campbell. Honestly, I don't know why they even come to these gatherings."   "They sound marvelous," said Geoffrey, with the first trace of interest he had thus far displayed. "Do they kidnap children? Dip snuff? Play acid rock on their bagpipes?"   Elizabeth was so distracted by this last possibility that she nearly forgot to answer. "Of course not," she finally said. "They were on the wrong side, that's all. It's like going to a Civil War reenactment and being a Yankee."   "Does this have something to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie--he of my forbidden necktie?" asked Geoffrey, fingering the object in question.   "Of course. In 1745 the Highland clans backed Charles Edward Stuart against the Hanovers for the throne of England. He raised an army in Scotland, and--"   "The MacPhersons were on his side, I take it?"   "Naturally."   "And the Campbells ... weren't?" Geoffrey beamed with pride at the magnitude of his deduction.   "Right. The final battle was at Culloden in 1746. The Highland clans with swords and an inoperative cannon stood against the British army and the Campbells, who were armed with muskets and bayonets!"   Geoffrey blinked. "There seems to be nothing wrong with the Campbells' intelligence, then. The MacPhersons, on the other hand--"   "It was a massacre," said Elizabeth, ignoring him. "And after the battle, the Duke of Cumberland's army spent months in the Highlands, killing every man, woman, and child they could find. They virtually obliterated the Highland clans."   "Hardly that," Geoffrey protested. "Judging from these Scottish gatherings, I'd say you were all breeding like hamsters."   "We're the refugees," snapped Elizabeth, glossing over a few centuries. "The ones who could escaped to Ireland, and then to America or Canada."   Geoffrey nodded comprehension. "I see! But, Elizabeth, what are the Campbells doing here then? Shouldn't they all be back in Scotland, living it up, having the place all to themselves?"   Elizabeth was shaken by this hitherto unconsidered question. "Never mind about that!" she muttered. "They're probably all descended from younger sons who got booted out to the colonies."   "That's right," smiled Geoffrey. "I'd forgotten that everyone in Virginia is descended from the English nobility. Not a yeoman in the state."   Elizabeth made a face at him.   "With all that fiction going around, I don't see why I couldn't be a Royal Stewart. Wasn't Bonnie Prince Charlie called The Pretender? It fits right in."   "Forget it, Geoffrey."   "You are so unreasonable. You won't even indulge me in my one bit of whimsy, when I have been a perfect saint about putting up with your eccentricity."   Geoffrey turned around and stared meaningfully at the passenger in the backseat, who returned the glare with malevolent yellow eyes.   Excerpted from Highland Laddie Gone by Sharyn McCrumb All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.