Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie


Published in paperback on 7th August 2015 by Matador

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend? More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah. When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question: Do we ever really know the people closest to us?

My thoughts

Sewing the Shadows Together is a promising debut crime novel from Alison Baillie.

Tom McIver returns to Scotland to scatter the ashes of his mother. His teenage sister Shona was killed and raped in Portobello, over thirty years ago. Returning to his home town, Tom is forced to confront the past. He reconnects with Shona’s best friend, Sarah. The acquittal of the local man charged with the killing opens up a can of worms for Tom. Who killed Shona and is justice still possible, so long after the event?

There is much to enjoy in this crime novel. Alison Baillie has a confident style and creates a fascinating backdrop; mixing small town school reunions and traumatic pasts.  My particular favourite was Tom, as much a victim of past events as his sister. Much of the action resulted from his reappearance in the lives of the members of the community and the subsequent turmoil.

The weakest part of the novel came from Sarah’s family. I felt less connected to them and they seemed to just highlight how pathetic Sarah was. Sarah seemed to be such a doormat, in her relationships with others. I was willing her to start developing a backbone. Her incredibly annoying mother and dreadfully shallow husband and children all seemed to have no redeeming features. And I really felt for the poor man who suffered a miscarriage of justice. He was voiceless. I wanted to know more.

Overall this is an entertaining and thought-provoking whodunnit. It was the character of Tom and his recovery journey that kept me reading. Alison Baillie shows a great deal of potential as a crime writer. I will be interested to see what she comes up with next.


My thanks to Alison Baillie for kindly sending me a copy of her book to review.

About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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3 Responses to Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

  1. I’m interested although slightly put off by Sarah’s weak character but the premise including wrongful conviction sounds good.

  2. crimebookjunkie40 says:

    I loved this book! I know what you are saying about Sarah, but I found that made her all the more real. Enjoyed your review 😉

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