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Joanne Ross Books In Order

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Publication Order of Joanne Ross Books

A Small Death in the Great Glen (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Double Death on the Black Isle (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Beneath the Abbey Wall (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
North Sea Requiem (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Low Road (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Kind of Grief (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

The character of Joanne Ross, protagonist of the famed highland gazette mystery series, is at once product of her environment and a response to the shackles of social inertia. Created by writer A.D. Scott and first brought to the public consciousness in 2010, the author drew heavily on her upbringing in her native Scotland and the unique culture and blustery surrounds of the Northern Highlands to frame her central character.

The formula has been widely successful. With the backdrop of this untamed land and tight community, the character of Joanne Ross has now fronted all six books in the highland gazette mystery series. With each new chapter in the series, the character of Joanne matures in both complexity and depth, revealing a highly layered and astutely observational personality beneath her seemingly mundane and abused veneer presented in the early stanzas.

Joanne is first introduced in the Scott’s debut a small death in the great glen. She is immediately positioned as a fairly unassuming character in an unassuming place built on traditional and subservience. Somewhat emblematic of the traditional environment of 1950s, Joanne works as a part time typist at a local newspaper the name of which frames the series.

Living in the Highlands town of Great Glen, her job provides a requisite distraction from her domestic life. A mother of two daughters, Joanne’s marriage is full emotional and physical abuse. Bill, her husband, genuinely disapproves of her part time job at the Gazette, creating even further tension in their loveless union. Divorce however is not an option for Joanne, although contemplated, reflecting the reality of life in rural and conservative 1950s Scotland.

This is the backdrop that frames the readers first impressions of Joanne in a small death in great glen, while also providing a microcosm of the wider problem of abuse–child abuse; spousal abuse; alcohol abuse; the abuse of power and position, both civic and religious— in the small Highlands town, and the community’s silent acceptance that enables this cycle.

In the first book, it is Joanne’s position at the highland gazette that exposes her to the murder of young Jamie Fraser. What begins as classic case of a missing child takes a nefarious turn when Jamie’s broken body is in the town’s canal. Adding a dark layer of intrigue, the coroner determines the boy was “interfered with” and subsequently murdered. For Joanne, the murders on a more personal tone stemming from the fact that her two daughters were the last people to see young Jamie alive.

Following the lead of the ambitious personality of the Gazette’s editor, Joanne becomes embroiled in the investigation of the murder. Together they uncover a host of secrets and a number of people with a vested interest in keeping the mystery of the boy’s death unsolved. In essence the veneer of the town’s residents and binding traditions are brought into question throughout the novel.

Throughout the course of events, it is the character of Joanne herself that is in fact exposed to be perhaps the greatest facade in Great Glen. By the end of the novel, she has evolved into a character with both the self-determination and confidence to take control of her own destiny.

Remembering that this is a time when women did not work outside their home, Joanna’s decisions to take her investigations to local pubs and shun dress conventions of the time, are clearly indicative of a bigger inward transition. As is her ambitions to move beyond her dictated role as a mother and wife to that of investigative reporter. All of which ultimately lead to the end of her marriage in all but paper and the beginning of her road to self-discovery and liberation.

Joanne’s character development gains momentum in the series second instalment, a double death on the Black Isle. Between the two novels, Joanne has seen her stock in the conservative town go through crests and dips. Now a single mother, Joanne’s character takes on more overt post-feminism characteristics in her second appearance in Scott’s world.

She has clearly become more career-driven in her outlook. Still working at the Gazette, in her role as a typist, she has become more intrigued by the investigative nature of journalist, but inwardly struggles so hard using her own confidence on her own ability to mark her mark.

Her abilities, self-confidence and integrity are put to the test as she grabbles with taking advantage of her large break & her personal attachment to a new dubious event to occur in the small town.

The inner battle inside Joanne becomes fairly intense. Primarily, she is torn whether to take on the plum task of reporting on these murders. The reason being is the woman at the center of both crimes is one of her closest friends. Through the novel, this inner moral conflict within Joanna Ross is never far from the pages and thoughts of the reader, clearly paralleling her own choices in domestic and professional life.

Foremost, Double Death on the Black Isle is a novel depicting a changing society, with Joanna as the central case study. Having always been dependent on or for someone — she’s someone’s child, someone’s wife, someone’s mother — she is indicative of the push by woman of the time to experience independence. However, her inner moral conflict does highlight the psychological impact of a transitioning society and the trailblazer’s place within it.

The ongoing change in both Scottish society and Joanna herself sets the tone for the rest of the series. The character develops in many unique ways but it is the landscape and traditions of rural Scotland that change by not changing at all. With each book, it becomes more clear to the reader that the mysteries and intrigue occurring in Great Glen serves as a catalyst for Joanna Ross broader journey of transformation into the canon of post-feminist heroines.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Joanne Ross

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