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CCC – Travel to Oban with Allan Martin

  • Submitted: 6th November 2022

Travel to Oban with Allan Martin

The Caledonian Crime Collective continues with Allan Martin. Oban awaits his expertise for your tour today ladies and gentlemen…


Allan Martin

Allan Martin

Booktrail locations in Allan Martin Books

I’m Allan Martin, and I’m the author of crime stories featuring DI Angus Blue, who’s based in Oban, a harbour town, fishing port and gateway to the Inner Hebrides. It’s a part of the world I know well, and there’s a personal connection, as my own family hails, a couple of generations back, from Colonsay and Jura.

CCC - Travel to Oban with Allan Martin

Each of the islands off the West coast has its own character, and there are plenty of them. So plenty of locations for mysterious events.

The Peat Dead Allan Martin

Booktrail locations in Allan Martin Books

The Angus Blue series can be described as crime thrillers with a political edge (with a small ‘p’).

The first book in the series, The Peat Dead, which was shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize in 2019, is set in Islay, one of the larger and more populous islands. It’s famous for its distilleries, and Angus Blue likes to try a whisky he’s not seen before, though he knows what he likes. This aspect of the story involved a considerable amount of research, as you can imagine! The plot involves the discovery of some bodies buried in a mass grave during the second world war, when there was a major RAF base on the island.

The Dead of Jura Allan Martin

The second, The Dead of Jura, is set in, you’ve guessed it, Jura! It’s wilder than Islay, very thinly populated, and mainly given over to shooting estates. This is where DI Blue must get to the bottom of a shooting where the target is a cabinet minister rather than a deer.

The Dead of Appin Allan Martin

Booktrail locations in Allan Martin Books

The third in the series, The Dead of Appin, moves to the mainland to the north of Oban, across the Connel Bridge and the dangerous tidal rapids known as the Falls of Lora, and into Benderloch and Appin, a fertile, historic and picturesque area between Loch Etive and Loch Leven. At the top of this area is Ballachulish, where the road runs north to Fort William and east to Glen Coe. DI Blue’s team are in action again when a body is found in a burnt-out car, and a well-known journalist has disappeared.

Oban from Pulpit Hill (c) Allan Martin

Oban from Pulpit Hill (c) Allan Martin

Booktrail locations in Allan Martin Books

And that still leaves lots of great locations for future stories. The fourth in the series is in process of creation now, and much of the action is in Oban itself, following a husband’s reporting his wife as missing on a visit to relatives in Estonia.

The ferry at Jura

I believe authenticity is very important to novels set in a particular place, and all the locations have been visited, usually more than once. Even an obscure town in Germany which features in The Dead of Jura has been checked out. In fact, I find checking out the locations as interesting as writing the book. Each location suggests possibilities for events which hadn’t occurred to me before, so it’s worth being there, using all five senses to take in the place. The same applies to my other series of crime novels, set in 1930s Estonia.

Of course, even though the places are real, it’s sometimes necessary to tweak the geography or the actual setting to fit the plot. So instead of Oban’s police station being a modest building on a street behind the railway station, I’ve based it one of the hotels on the front. That gives lots more space for canteen, meeting rooms, offices of senior officers, etc.

CCC - Travel to Oban with Allan Martin

Many reviews of the Angus Blue books comment (positively) on the realism of the locations and the pleasure readers find in visiting them.

I have been asked if I’d invent fictitious locations. The answer is, sometimes it’s necessary. If I set a murder on a real small island with perhaps only a hundred or so inhabitants, readers would inevitably think real people or occurrences were being hinted at in the events of the story. So I’d have to make up an entirely fictional island, and add a disclaimer!

Booktrail locations in Allan Martin Books

Perhaps the best tribute I’ve had is at an author event at The Celtic House shop in Bowmore, Islay. One of the audience told me not only how upset she’d been to read that someone was run over by a van, but that it was right outside her door!

That was a lovely tour Allan. Quite the anecdotes at the end!


BookTrail Boarding Pass: Allan Martin Books

Twitter: @AllanMartinAuth  Web:  https://www.allanmartin.scot/

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