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)