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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

Monday, 10 June 2019

"Death in Shetland Waters" by Marsali Taylor

This is the sixth book in a series of murder mysteries set on or around the Shetlands, and starring sailor Cassandra Lynch. In this one Cass has finally got a job as third mate on a tall ship sailing from Stavanger to Belfast training mostly young people to sail. Is there a stowaway on board and who owns the gun Cass finds? Then shipmates start to disappear. A classic murder mystery with a wonderful background.

The reasons that I love these books include:

  • Her characters are more complex and three dimensional and real compared to many in this genre;
  • Her descriptions can be taut and compact (for example “The worry’s in your voice, like water finding a pebble in its way.” C 3; “His chest rose and fell in deep breaths of the soft air.” C 5; “I felt a sadness sharp and sudden as standing barefoot on a thistle.” C 15) or lyrical (“It had become a most beautiful evening. The sky was whisked with skeins of teased grey fleece, tinted gold by the sun behind them. The land had taken shape from misty shadows to wooded hills punctuated with white houses, soft and enchanted in the yellow light. The sea was like grey velvet.” C 18; “Gradually, the sky darkened, and the moon thickened from a transparent honesty penny to the colour of old brass, poised in a diamond of rigging.” C 2)
  • We include real dilemmas. In this case Cass is torn between pursuing her career on her beloved ships and having a family with DI Gavin Macrae. This dilemma is sharpened by a fellow shipmate who is pregnant by another crew member (who has a wife). There is empathy but there is also a stingingly sharp observation from the Cass (brought up a Roman Catholic): “I couldn't imagine what it must be like to know that your own child was about to be pulled out of its safe womb to die drowning in the air like a fish.” (C 8)

She can also be funny:
  • The one thing I did know about horses was that they believed they were permanently starving.” (C 2)
  • Cat stalked back to the bandstand, obviously thinking poorly of a deity that gave food the unfair advantage of wings.” (C 4)
  • His sour expression suggested a box-of-Rennies-a-day habit.” (C 8)
  • Evening dress aboard this ship is all the thermals and outerwear you've got.” (C 15)
June 2019; 337 pages



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