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Investigative journalist Zara MacDonald does not expect part of a mystery skeleton to be found on an innocent picnic she is enjoying with her godson by the River Kelvin. When the first question of whom the bone belongs to is answered, Zara becomes obsessed with the reason for the death. She hopes her new neighbours aren’t involved though there seems to be a connection between them and Malloch, one of Glasgow’s notorious gangsters, a man who has up till now never been nailed for murder. And there seems to be a connection between a fire Zara has been writing an article about and the bone.

Against the advice of her would-be lover Barney who is always wanting her to put love before career and her witty and sardonic CID friend Des with whom she engages in a continual dialogue of conflict, Zara insists on knocking on dangerous doors and finding herself face to face with Malloch at a party that turns into a grim adventure.
When Malloch realises Zara is on his case, he enters into a complex game, playing people off against each other in an attempt to keep his vengeful plot a secret and he has no compunction in killing off anyone who knows too much. Zara has to delve into the past to find how the jigsaw fits together. Where will she find the key? Does it lie with fire or water or both? And where does female genital mutilation fit in to all this tangle?
Eventually, Malloch has to remove Zara from the scene in order to carry out his deadly aim and she has to extricate herself from the very bowels of Glasgow. It is while she is underground that she manages to piece the puzzle together but can she escape soon enough to be in time to prevent Malloch from succeeding in laying a ghost from his past by perpetrating another killing, an act which would leave a stream of collateral damage in its wake and solve nothing?

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Cicely Gill’s poems draw on different sections of her life — childhood, relationships, race, the Isle of Arran, foreign places, love and death. Some poems are serious, some humorous but she tries in all of them to make sense of this world, its pain and its beauty.

As well as poetry, she writes novels, short stories and plays. She has self-published two detective novels, Ivory (2013) and Zara on Arran (2017) and her play A Horse for Every Man, about World War One on Arran was commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland and performed in Lamlash in 2014.

Born in England, she has now spent the greater part of her life in Scotland and describes herself as ‘Scottish by choice’. After university, she worked variously as a jeweller on the Isle of Arran and then as a therapist in Glasgow. Now she spends as much time as possible writing. She is married with two children and four grandchildren.

The Trees of Childhood




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Having been a jeweller for too many years and then a counsellor, I thought it was time to let writing dominate my life. Surely after two careers, two children and four grandchildren, an English childhood and a long marriage on a Scottish island, I could write a book worth reading. I had been practising my whole life. ‘Ivory’ is my fifth novel but my first crime novel and my publishing debut. I also write plays, short stories and poems.

Cicely Gill


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