Charles Laidlaw debut novel The Herbal Detective

Former journalist Charles Laidlaw. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Former journalist Charles Laidlaw. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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A former journalist has celebrated the publication of his debut novel at a book launch in the Golf Inn at Gullane.

Charles Laidlaw, 61, writing as Charles Gray, has penned The Herbal Detective – a comedy set in the fictional small Scottish town of Holy Cross.

Black cats, sneaking suspicions and an impending general election are all piling up on the hapless inhabitants – not least on the local pub proprietor.

It tells the story of Rosie McLeod, 39, a gifted herbalist of some renown.

She sets out to discover, using only the deductive powers of plants and herbs, if her husband is having an affair and to solve a murder before she becomes the next victim.

Ringwood Publishing has described Mr Gray’s paperback book as “a highly entertaining trip to Scottish village life, where the frontiers between innocence and guilt, logic and magic, start to shift and events come thick and fast. The Herbal Detective is an outstanding and very funny story that stays gripping until the very end”.

Mr Gray, from Gullane, a marketing consultant, worked as a newspaper journalist after graduating from Edinburgh University.

Married with two children, he is also a former defence intelligence analyst.

Mr Gray said: “The book is an entertainment, nothing more, and if people read it as such, I hope they’ll enjoy it.

It’s intended to be fun, although its subliminal message is that intolerance and bigotry are wrong – and if readers take that message from it, then I’ll be pleased.

Mr Gray went on: “I have just completed a second novel – a modern comic fairy tale of love 
and loss, mostly set in Edinburgh and North Berwick, and a contemporary retelling of The Wizard of Oz.

“It’s about a young woman who, in tragic circumstances, finds a new beginning.”