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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 19 August 2017

"The Body in the Bracken" by Marsali Taylor

This is the fourth in a series of murder mysteries set in Shetland and starring Cass Lynch. The first three are:
Death on a Longship
The Trowie Mound Murders
A Handful of Ash

They're all brilliant.

In this one Cass sails to Scotland to meet policeman boyfriend's family for Christmas; walking on the hills the pair discover a body. Is it that of missing Ivor who has vanished from the Shetlands and if so who killed him? Is the njuggle (mythical water horse) real and what has any of this to do with the removals business owned by the bullying Councillor? And who is trying to kill Cass? Another stupendously satisfying murder mystery.

But the real joy about these books isn't the plot but the fabulous descriptions of Shetland scenery and the everyday nature of life. Cass goes to college, shops at the Co-op, waitresses in a local cafe. The people around her are everyday fold with strengths and weaknesses, the mother with her little boy, the old-timer with his bootleg whisky, the crofter with his antique shop selling trinkets mostly on eBay. A wonderful portrait of a community lends this book such reality and the way people react to horror and murder is so true to life. Almost my favourite moment was the two old women gossiping in the Co-op. The love tussle between solid dependable Gavin and stunningly good-looking Anders was alos great as was the description of the Up Helly Aa festival.

Some of my favourite lines:
  • "Ice-hardened brown kelp silvered the sea's edge." (p 1) A hallmark of the books is the beautiful descriptions of the Scottish scenery. 
  • "a hesitant way of spacing his words, as if he was translating from Gaelic in his head" (p 3)
  • "a fourth cousin, who was so like me that I could have shaved by him" (p 7)
  • "I hated those awful railway platform moments" (p 18) when saying goodbye. So do I!!!!
  • "I swallowed my natural daughterly desire to say black to dad's white" (p 74)
  • "The sky was mottled with racing clouds" (p 85)
  • "The returning moon was tipped on her back, with the black disc of the new moon caught in her arm." (p 106)
  • "The low sun danced on the water, turning it to whisky gold." (p 111)
  • "The house was surrounded by sheds which gave a very good impression of drink men holding each other up." (p 156)
  • "Her eyes flared, as if she knew something I didn't." (p 167)
  • "I found the words uncoiling in my throat" (p 191)
A very well written murder mystery. August 2017; 223 pages

The brilliant books in this series, in order, include:

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