Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Grave Tattoo - Book #104

| Title | The Grave Tattoo |
| Author |Val McDermid |
| Genre |Mystery |
| Pages |388 |
| Publisher |St. Martins |
| Copyright |2006 |

Synopsis (from web-site)
A superb psychological thriller in which present-day murder has its roots in the eighteenth century and the mutiny on the Bounty. When torrential summer rains uncover a bizarrely tattooed body on a Lake District hillside, old wives' tales also come swirling to the surface. For centuries Lakelanders have whispered that Fletcher Christian staged the massacre on Pitcairn so that he could return home. And there he told his story to an old friend and schoolmate, William Wordsworth, who turned it into a long narrative poem - a poem that remained hidden lest it expose Wordsworth to the gallows for harbouring a fugitive. Wordsworth specialist Jane Gresham, herself a native of the Lake District, feels compelled to discover once and for all whether the manuscript ever existed - and whether it still exists today. But as she pursues each new lead, death follows hard on her heels. Suddenly Jane is at the heart of a 200-year-old mystery that still has the power to put lives on the line. Against the dramatic backdrop of England's Lake District a drama of life and death plays out, its ultimate prize a bounty worth millions.

Why I read It
Val McDermid has written three different mystery series (crimes investigated by the same characters) and several standalones (not in a series). I have the first book in her biggest series (now a BBC TV show called Wire in the Blood) on order, but until then I have been reading some of the solo efforts. This one was in my local library.

The Good
I really like speculative revisionist history with a mystery subplot, and I would guess so do most of you. If you are not sure what I am talking about think Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series (DaVinci Code, etc.). McDermid has taken a well known historical event, Fletcher Christian and the Mutiny on the Bounty, and completely turned it around. I love that stuff.

The Bad
The whole subplot with the young girl Tenille was a little too superfluous. The pace was a little slow at times but I blame that on reading The Lost Symbol only a week or so before. The structure of this book was very traditional compared to Dan Brown’s hyper style.

The Ugly (my opinion)
A very fun book and the actual history was quite informative. So if you are not able to wait another five years for Langdon to uncover the deep secrets of conspiring men, this book will be great filler. Not a spoiler unless you are quite familiar with McDermid, but only someone in her position could get away with a bad guy like this one. It is somewhat rare in modern mysteries.

The Truth? (other reviews)
Sunday Times

Mormon Mentions

Author Biography
Crime writer Val McDermid grew up in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, and studied English at Oxford University. She trained as a journalist and worked on various national newspapers for 14 years before becoming a writer. Her first published book was Report for Murder (1987), and since then, she has written a large number of crime novels.

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