Book Review: Death of a Falcon by Susan McDuffie

death of a falcon susan mcduffie book review
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The synopsis on the back of the book: 

Scotland, 1375: Muirteach MacPhee and his wife Mariota visit Edinburgh Castle, assisting the Lord of the Isles in his negotiations with King Robert II. A trading vessel arrives at the nearby port of Leith from the far away Norse settlement in Greenland. The ship brings unexpected diversion and carries coveted wares: gyrfalcons, unicorn’s horns, and fine furs. Both King Robert and the Lord of the Isles desire the rare birds, easily worth a king’s ransom.

Muirteach and Mariota, unaccustomed to the sophistication of castle life, initially find pleasure in the heady and flirtatious glamor of the royal court. Then sudden and unexpected cruelty, followed by the senseless death of a beautiful young girl, plunge the couple into a murky sea of alliances and intrigue that stretches from Scotland across the icy western ocean to the far northern lands of the Norse, leaving trails of treachery and murder in its wake.

  • Genre: Historical Mystery
  • Publication Date: March 2, 2018
  • Liafinn Press
  • Pages: 310 Pages
  • Series: Muirteach MacPhee Mystery, Book 4

Praise for the Award-Winning Muirteach MacPhee Mysteries

“McDuffie brings. this period to life in such a way that the reader is transported. Her characters are rich and multi-faceted. . . the perfect blend of history, rich in historical detail, and a mysterious investigation.” -The Most Happy Reader

“A superb mystery, and historically correct in every aspect. McDuffie knows her Scottish history and this period intimately and is a powerful storyteller.” -Reading the Ages

“Well-paced and engrossing.” -Kirkus Reviews

“A good choice.” -Library Journal

“Well worth reading.” -CelticLady’s Reviews

death of a falcon by susan mcduffie
They say the folk there have green skin, and drink salt water.
— Mariota

Why I Chose This Book

Scotland - check. A good mystery- check. Medieval times- check. With those thee qualifications, I knew it was going to be a good one! 

First Initial Thoughts

I haven't read a book set during the 14th century in quite some time so I was quite excited to read what Edinburgh was like during this time. I have toured Edinburgh Castle and have seen inside the castle. 

The story starts off with Muirteach and Mariota on their way to Edinburgh Castle to assist his Lord with negotiations with King Robert II. Before the British took over in the 18th century there were different clans in Scotland, and each of these clans had a Lord to oversee them. Mariota and Muirteach was such a sweet couple! I absolutely adored them from the start. They were completely in love with each other. It was heartwarming to read. 

One thing that took me a while to get used to was all the characters in the story. There are quite a few characters and I had to reference the cast of characters, in the beginning, a couple times. I also appreciated that Susan included a Glossary of terms, as she stayed true to the language at that time. 

When Muirteach and Mariota reach Edinburgh Castle they are swept away by the lavish lifestyle of the royals. Which I would be too! I am sure it was a lot better living condition than what they were used to. After a lavish and fun dinner event, a murder of a pretty young girl happens. The whole royal court is shocked and the Lord hires Muirteach to solve the murder. 


Susan did an amazing job with her research and creating Edinburgh Castle in the 14th century. She definitely stayed true to the history and I appreciated that! I found it interesting how the Castle was situated at this time. 

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
— Peter 3:9

Final Thoughts

Even though this is book 4 four in the series I felt that it could be read as a standalone. I was not confused one bit. 

What I loved about the mystery of this story is there were constant twists and turns and it kept me on my toes. I always enjoy reading a mystery before technology came about. I enjoy reading books that use old fashion methods in solving mysteries. It's nostalgic in a way! 

When it comes to the who done it - I am very picky about how it's written. Susan did not ruin it for me! The story was well done - and I didn't feel like the reason why the young girl was murdered was obvious or cliche in any way. 

Muirteach throughout the story faces some challenges within his marriage and life in general. He definitely let the lifestyle of the royal court get to him. This leads him to look at his own failings which will probably be looked at further in the next book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this murder mystery set in Medieval Scotland. It's very different from most of the murder mysteries I have read so I welcomed that. 

Would I Recommend?

Yes! If you enjoy reading mysteries and are interested in Medieval times, you will probably really like this story! 

About The Author

Susan McDuffie

A fan of historical fiction since childhood, Susan McDuffie spent such vast amounts of time reading stories set in the past that she wondered if she had mistakenly been born in the wrong century. As an adult her discovery that Clorox was not marketed prior to 1922 reconciled her to life in this era. Susan’s childhood interest in Scotland was fueled by family stories of the McDuffie clan’s ancestral lands on Colonsay and their traditional role as “Keeper of the Records” for the Lords of the Isles. On her first visit to Scotland she hitchhiked her way through the Hebrides, and her initial visit to Colonsay and the Oronsay Priory ruins planted the seeds for her medieval mysteries. Those seeds have grown into the Muirteach MacPhee mysteries, set in medieval Scotland during the Celtic Lordship of the Isles. The series includes A MASS FOR THE DEAD, THE FAERIE HILLS (2011 New Mexico Book Awards “Best Historical Novel”), THE STUDY OF MURDER (New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards Finalist 2014), and THE DEATH OF A FALCON. Susan frequently presents at workshops and conferences and regularly reviews historical fiction books for the Historical Novel Society’s “Historical Novels Review.

Susan lives in New Mexico and shares her life with a Native American artist and four cosseted cats. She enjoys taking flamenco dance classes in her spare time. Susan loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via Facebook or through her website.


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away 5 paperback copies & 5 eBooks of The Death of a Falcon! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Please note, if you are the winner, you will be contacted by the host of this tour. 

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


You can purchase the book --- > HERE

Good luck to all those that enter! Do you also love a good medieval mystery? 

the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I was provided a copy of this book to review from the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.