The House at Balnesmoor, a/k/a A Few Small Bones, dates from 1968 and is one of Rae's earliest efforts. It follows Norman Lang, who makes a gruesome discovery near his idyllic country retreat in Glasgow's countryside, the bodies of two schoolgirls buried among the heather. The chapters alterenate between Chief Superintendent McCaig and Inspector Ryan and their investigation and the lives of the cast of suspects, including the reclusive Lang; his wife, who is prone to nervous fits; the real estate agent Galbraith, an aging libidinous bachelor; and Lang's neighbors, the Johnstones, both involved in separate adulterous affairs. As the investigation deepens, it casts a long shadow over Lang and his reputation and threatens to push his tormented wife to the brink of madness. But McCaig begins to worry that a fatal fusion of youthful passion and neurosis gone murderously awry may lead the killer to strike again.
Rae once said in an interview that he hoped he was "crafty enough not to bury the story in an excess of detail but to lure the reader into the experience of another time, another place through the interaction of the characters." He also noted that he returned again and again to Scottish backgrounds and themes, with a particular interest in the shifting phases in his home country over the past two centuries and the hardships suffered by its people, urban and rural. It's been pointed out that Rae was one of the earliest in the "tartan noir" line of Scottish authors whose descendants include Ian Rankin and Denise Mina.
Rae went on to write only one additional book in the McCaig/Ryan series, The Shooting Gallery (1972), which was a finalist for the 1973 Edgar Award for Best Mystery. Rae eventually turned to "lightweight guns'n'gals thrillers" under the Crawford and Albany names and historical romance novels under the Stirling pseudonym because they were more lucrative. He also dabbled in radio plays and television, and two of his novels were adapted for TV in the 80s and 90s.