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Paying the Piper [Mass Market Paperback]

Sharyn McCrumb
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 13 1988
"She's Agatha Christie with an attitude; outrageous and engrossing at the same time."
Steven Womack,
NASHVILLE BANNER
Book four in Sharyn McCrumb's Elizabeth MacPherson murder mystery series.
A motley crew of American and British professionals and amateurs gathers for an archaeological dig into prehistoric burial rites on a small Scottish island. Things already aren't going so well, when one of the strongest in the crew dies suddenly. Afraid for her life, fellow digger and forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson probes the rocky topsoil for a reason behind the evil aura of death that seems to hover over them. Is the excavation cursed by the ancient dead...or is there a more modern explanation behind the group's strangely rising mortality rate...?

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From the Publisher

It's hard to say which is my favorite of McCrumb's Elizabeth MacPherson murder mysteries. She's a funny lady and every one of her very well-plotted MacPherson novels is full of all manner of zany characters. In some ways, though, this early one -- 1988 -- is one I'd recommend first to a reader new to Sharyn McCrumb. It's set on a small Scottish island, full of ominous atmosphere, naturally, where Elizabeth, a forensic anthropologist, and a crew of archaeologists are looking into prehistoric burial rites. And then, of course, a crew member dies. I tried to play detective while I read, but Paying the Piper totally faked me out -- McCrumb used one of the most ingenious murder methods I've ever come across in a lifetime of reading mysteries.

--Margaret Sanborn, Senior Publicity Copywriter

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent read April 16 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this story, as in all her Elizabeth MacPherson mysteries, Sharon McCrumb has provided readers with a detective who is intelligent yet fallible. Mystery fans who are tired of the omnipotent detective who solves the case by apparent esp will love this series. Elizabeth has just as hard a time putting the clues together as you or I. The hints are there, but they are easily missed in all the fascinating details of excavating an archeological find. Her secondary characters in the form of an intensly irritating bagpipe player, arrogant doctor and quirky scientists will entertain even readers not fascinated by the mystery genre. This book would be an excellent introduction to McCrumb's light-hearted style of fiction. Anyone who enjoys this book would be well advised to try all of the Elizabeth stories as they are all equally enjoyable.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat strident in tone April 16 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One wouldn't want to be stranded on a nearly deserted island with this heroine. Nor should anyone rely upon Elizabeth MacPherson's detective skills - it takes 3 murders, a pseudo-suicide and several casualities before she solves the mystery. Furthermore, the Elizabeth/Cameron "romance" looks like a dysfunctional family prototype. But, if you take the lighthearted fare as offered, it's still an enjoyable journey and a pretty good read. The unabridged audio recording (read by Davinia Porter and Ian Stuart) doesn't quite do the trick, Elizabeth with a British accent? Mr. Stuart seems clueless, but with little or no charm at all. Somewhat strident in tone, and not a particularly good pairing of readers and books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good entertainment! Dec 17 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this mystery, and while it followed (in a satisfying way) some of the traditions of the genre, it also avoided a lot of the cliches through the depiction of interesting, non-stereotypical characters and relationships. Strangers stuck on an inhospitable island together, unexplained accidents and mysterious deaths, the haunting sound of bag pipes coming across the water, a brewing storm - these all come together to provide pleasantly shivery reading. The reader of the audio version has a lovely lilting voice, and while it's a little odd to have her speaking in the voice of the American female protagonist's diary, she does a great job with the Scottish accents!
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