‘Crucible of Secrets’ is also known as ‘Crucible’ and depending on the version you read it is by Shona Maclean or S.G. Maclean. It is the third novel in her Alexander Seaton series set in 17th century Scotland.
Alexander Seaton has come a long way. He has married Sarah and they have a young daughter Deidre in addition to Sarah’s first child Zander. Seaton is now a master at Marischal College in Aberdeen.
When the College librarian Robert Sim is brutally murdered in the library courtyard, Seaton is asked by the principal to investigate his friend’s life to determine what has led to his murder. Pretty soon he makes some discoveries that lead him down some dangerous paths – the Masons, Rosicrucians and other secrets that were best avoided in 17th century Scotland.
But how is any of this linked to Robert’s death or the death of a second victim. And how does the second victim link to Robert Sim.
Seaton is starting to find out things about Robert and other friends that he may be better off not knowing. And the investigation is placing him in danger and affecting his relationship with Sarah. He is starting to doubt the very foundations of his life. But he finds it impossible to leave the investigation alone even when he is asked to do so.
Eventually he finds the obscure clue that ties everything together.
This was an excellent atmospheric novel and each character in the story was incredibly well described so that I was transported to Aberdeen in the 1600s. Life at the time was much more about sticking to societal rules and much of the novel was about what happens when those rules are broken.
This novel would work well as a standalone novel, but I’m glad that I’ve read the two earlier novels in the series and got to know Seaton and many of the other characters – some of whom are real historical figures.
I’m looking forward to reading the next and final novel in the series – ‘The Devil’s Recruit’.