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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 8 July 2017

"Death on a Longship" by Marsali Taylor

Chronologically the first Cassandre Lynch murder mystery. The first one I read was the third in the series: "A Handful of Ash" which is brilliant. I have now also read another stunner: the second in the series: The Trowie Mound Murders

Cass arrives back in Shetland as skipper of a replica long boat being used to make a film about Vikings; the star is doubled in the action scenes by her own twin sister who is having an affair with Cassie's dad who wants to cover Shetland with wind turbines. When Cass discovers a body on board her ship whodunnit? Was it someone from the film, or someone wanting to sabotage the film, or a wind farm protester, of Cassie's dad? And why had Cassie's handsome Norwegian shipmate deserted his watch on the night of the murder?

And will Cass, haunted by the death of a boyfriend, ever get a man?

My only problem with this book is that I read it out of order. When you have a series with long-running characters it is difficult to maintain a full list of suspects: those that appear in later books are more or less ruled out as the killer in an earlier book.

The wonderful thing about Marsali Taylor's work isn't the lyrical descriptions of Shetland scenery or the cleverly constructed plot but the reality of the characters. Cass is a character to whom we can all relate: coping with unparently parents, haunted by the past, half envying the settled life of her married friends but lured by the freedom of the sea, attracted to others but unwilling to commit. The only character I hated was Kenneth, the teacher (I used to be a teacher), about whom nothing good can be said: even he must have had a redeeming feature!

Some fantastic moments of misdirection too. I loved the Anders/ Michael relationship.

I have to source book 2.

Some great lines

  • "His nose was slightly skafe, as if he had fallen out of too many trees in his youth." (p 7) Who needs to have a translation? I just wondered if it was related to 'skew-whiff'.
  • "It wasn't a propitious week, with the silver disk of the moon draining away." (p 10)
  • "His sour mouth stretched into what, for him, could pass as a smile." (p 70)
  • "Her gaze drifted over my shoulder again, then sharpened to flint." (p 70)
  • "He had that annoying teacher's habit of repeating everything." (p 74)
  • "I heard their penguin cackle echo round the room." (p 100)
  • "I'd been too busy looking at rigging to distinguish ropes." (p 125)
  • "If you left him alone to work at his own pace, you could bet your last mooring rope on his answer." (p 127)
  • "That is like saying you do not need to listen to music. You will not die without it, but you may want to listen. Life is much more full with it." (p 136)
  • "He had the makings of a very good sailor if he managed to stay undrowned." (p 177)
An excellent book.

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