Ballindaloch Castle background

Reviews of the Bloodlines series

On this page we gather book reviews and praise for Bloodlines – Touch Not The Cat and Bloodlines – Traces. Send us your review at info@touchnotthecat.com, and we will post it here.

The idea behind ‘Bloodlines – Touch Not The Cat’ is an intriguing one. Two threads of a story taking place a century or so apart on either side of the Atlantic are brought together in alternate chapters culminating in an absorbing mystery that has been shrouded in secrecy for generations.

What begins with American David Stewart tracing his Scots heritage becomes increasingly murkier as the action shifts from North Carolina to the Scottish Highlands and a modern-day detective hunt by his homicide cop wife Cathy.

Vividly told, the story fairly rattles on through very convincingly fleshed-out characters as details from Victorian Scotland begin to merge with Cathy’s 21st century quest.

Written by first-time authors Tom McKerley and Ingrid Schippers, Touch Not the Cat is a triumph not only for pulling together two intriguing tales across the centuries but also in overcoming the strategic difficulties involved in the pair liaising from their homes in Troon, Scotland, and the Netherlands respectively.

Full of great characters and packed with fascinating detail – including the fact that Ballindalloch Castle which features in this work of fiction actually exists – this is a rewarding read for anyone interested in genealogy and historic novels as well as those who enjoy a good yarn well told.

Gerry Cassidy, The Word on the Street Magazine, October 2016

Bloodlines – Traces

US cop Cathy Stewart stays on in the Highlands to defend the Macpherson family from the inquisitive DI Duckett over the bones of Gordon Macpherson.

But she finds herself entangled in a 120-year-old scandal involving the laird’s daughter, Katherine, at the University of Edinburgh. Meanwhile, her estranged husband David continues the genealogy quest into the WWI atrocities of Gallipoli, where his ancestor Alexander Stewart is said to have died.

Following Cathy’s trail, New Yorker Diane Cox confronts present-day patriarch Angus Macpherson, when she boards the luxurious Royal Scotsman to heir-hunt her way to the Ballindalloch Estate.

But just as the paths of David and Cathy reunite, and all threads come together, Angus disappears.

This is a page-turner of a novel which sequels the hit debut of Tom McKerley and Ingrid Schippers and takes in many places familiar and not so familiar to Strathy readers, including Grantown and Boat of Garten, as the plot twists through time.

It reveals the challenges of women’s suffrage, poverty in Edwardian Scotland and the disastrous strategy of a young Winston Churchill in the Great War. Like its predecessor, Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat, it’s a well-researched genealogy mystery novel. Its multi-layered narrative combines an atmospheric Gothic romance with a gripping contemporary murder mystery.

McKerley had become somewhat of a genealogy expert having spent time tracing his family tree back to the 1790s so was the perfect foil for the pair’s debut novel with the plot coming in a dream to Schippers.

McKerley constructed an initial synopsis for the first Bloodlines, “just for fun really”, and on a hunch went looking on the web for a location to set the scene. He found Ballindalloch Estate, family home of the Macpherson-Grants since 1546.

The pair started creating a story that would not let them go. Quickly the short-story turned into their first novel. Their second book picks up where novel one left off.

n Bloodlines Traces is now on sale priced £8.99 by Would You Believe That Publishing. There’s a free download of the first four chapters on www.touchnotthecat.com

Gavin Musgrove, Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, September 2016

Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat

I thoroughly enjoyed the read and my comments are shown below.

The book was ‘easy on the eye’ due to lots of white space, font style and size and spacing between the sentences. Each chapter clearly reminds us of date, time and location. Excellent for keeping the mind focused if you have to take a break from the book for any reason.

I loved the feel of the book and the chosen size meant it felt comfortable in the hand. I liked that acknowledgements are explained and not just a list of names. It shows how people can research for their ancestors and also gives a wealth of knowledge on history, life style differences. It also showed how position in life impacted our way of thinking , restrictions and control.

Thank you again for such a lovely book.

Linda Luman, Troon Writer’s Club

What a fabulous mystery book! Loved the time-travelling alternate chapters, it kept me page turning to find out what happened in each century and found it fascinating how events were inter-related. Characters are easy to identify with and I warmed to the modern independent yet vulnerable Cathy as the story unfolded, each chapter encouraging me to support her that bit more. Would love to find out more about the historical Katherine as she lives in a time of emerging changes for women and education. The Scottish Macphersons were a joy to read, a perfect mix of warmth and compassion, dry humour and wit with a little eccentricity. The descriptive narrative easily sets the scene in your mind and I found myself longing to visit the places so beautifully described in the book. The plot is pacy and full of just enough turns to keep you interested yet gently unfolds to give you time to get to know Cathy and to empathise with her situation. Loved the ending, it tied up all loose ends with a slightly humorous and “you go girl” attitude!
Looking forward to reading the sequel!

Karen Macpherson, Scotland, August 2016

Thoroughly enjoyed reading the “Bloodlines-Touch Not The Cat” and after visiting Scotland this past May, the second read was even better. I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 and why? I believe the sequel will be even better. Gosh, now how to get the book in Canada.
Thank you!!
Keep writing.
Dawnis, Canada, August 2016

The only problem with book I, is that I could hardly wait for book II

Normally I’m not one for different timeframes in fiction, but in Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat, it
provided more depth and suspense. To me the Bloodlines series are tales of courage, following up on chances paved by our ancestors through time, the quest to find what really matters.The Bloodlines characters work around the inevitable obstacles life brings while thinking out of the box”The pace of the book is one of a steady flow, like the river Spey, with surprising turns. Refreshing and enchanting!!
Jorine Janssen, The Netherlands, July 2016
I just finished reading the first book, Bloodlines-Touch Not the Cat. It’s very well written, the parallel story lines and character development. There were so many twists and turns in the story, I couldn’t put it down and kept wanting to read more. I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel where even more of the story will be revealed! Having been through Scotland recently, I enjoyed the book even more because I felt like I could be right there in the story with the characters wherever they went.

Ceci Wong, July 23rd 2016

I mainly read texts of scientific essays and spirituality, that’s why when it comes to fiction, I am intrigued by the combo of synchronicity and genes: the meaning of the word genealogy is in the root “gene,” as in “passed on through the genes.” It took me one night to read the first book of Ingrid and Tom. Could not stop reading it… Fab! Now I can’t wait to delight my summer on the beach with their 2nd one!!Bloodlines – Traces

Barbara Reale, July, 21st 2016

What a great read. Thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Tom and Ingrid have a way with words, made me feel I was right in among the story.

Douglas Black- Sydney, Australia, July 2016

A big well done to Tom and Ingrid on another high quality and interesting read. Anyone who enjoyed the first visit to Ballindalloch will feel like they are catching up with old friends. Bloodlines- Traces won’t disappoint.

David Herron, Troon, Scotland

As a sequel to Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat, here is another well researched Genealogy Mystery novel, Bloodlines – Traces, once again set against the majestic, moody backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.  With a multi –layered, page-turning narrative, it combines an atmospheric Gothic romance with a gripping contemporary  murder mystery – Charlotte Bronte meets Sara Paretsky. !

Vivien Devlin, Arts and Travel Writer. March 2016

The first book set the scene brilliantly, and the sequel brought in mystery and intrique. I couldn’t stop reading it as I wanted to know what had happened to the Laird, and the complications that arose.

A well executed book of historical facts, mystery and problemsolving. I loved the book.

Dawn Lemmer proofreader for Bloodines -Traces. Februari 2016

“Once upon a time there were two authors with a clever idea for a new novel.
They worked together over month and miles, and the result has all the elements of a great read; family feuds, suspicious deaths, betrayals and a compelling narrative that switches effortlessly between the past and the present.

Detective Cathy Stewart, nee Macpherson, is coerced into visiting the Scottish home of her ancestors, Ballindalloch Castle. But her investigative skills are soon back at work, on the trail of answers to a mystery that has gone unsolved for over a century.

An auspicious debut and the perfect starting point for a series.”

The Daily Record, The Daily Record book review by Shari Low, Saturday 16th June 2012

Ballindalloch Castle, ancestral home of the Macpersons, is the setting for a long ago tragedy to be revealed. A compelling read.

The Scotland Magazine, May/June 2012 edition.

This gripping mystery slips easily between past and present, drawing the reader into a rich, multi-layered tale that focuses on the fascinating family history of Ballindalloch Castle. The gripping dual narrative follows Cathy from North Carolina on her journey to the Scottish Highlands as she fights to uncover a family mystery, interspersed with flashbacks to the life of Alexander Stewart in 1875. It’s a page-turning combination of mystery and romance, history and genealogy that will appeal to fans of both detective fiction and family history.

Scottish Field, May 2012 edition
“Cover to Cover” review of Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat: 4 out of 5 stars.

“I was turning the pages well passed my bedtime.”

Margaret Kilpatrick.

“The switches between past and present were seamless and very clever.”

Ian McGuire.

“The characters were brought to life through their personalities and had genuine feelings for each of them.”

Libby Banyard.

“As a lover of historical and modern-day stories I was given the best of both worlds.”

Brian McKettring.

“The details and descriptions of the places where the story takes place were so good, and although I have never visited them, I felt they were familiar to me and I think , were I to visit, I would feel I had been there already.”

Libby Banyard.

“A real page turner, your imagination embraces both the past and present day storylines.”

Margaret McGuire.

“I never seen it coming. The ending of the book was gripping and hope there is more to come.”

Mary Morrow.

“The book is a good solid read and pulls your interest along with the changing time scales and characters. They are well constructed and you find that you care for their lives and difficulties”.

Marjory Marshall, bookstore-owner in the Highlands, who has supported the authors in their process of writing.