All my life I have wished to be able to sail along the sea. To be able to smell the saltwater fresh in the air and watch as the waves bob me along in my wooden contraption. To watch the sails billowing out as the wind filled them. Alas, I have never lived close by to the water so I have, as of yet, not been able to fulfill this very wish—which makes me greatly appreciate any author who can transport me into the role of a sailor or skipper of a beautiful ocean-bound vessel with just the magic of words.
Marsali Taylor, author of Death on a Longship, did just that when I began her spectacular book of seafaring murder. As with most of the authors I have read books from lately, Marsali Taylor is a name that I was not very familiar with before coming across her book (published by Attica Books). However, when the chance to read it fell into my hands, I took the book (or e-book, rather) and ran with it.
Death on a Longship is narrated by the main character Cassandre Lynch (or Cass as she is known), and it starts out with her discovering a dead body on the boat she has been hired to skipper for an upcoming film. After calling the police and blatantly disregarding their note of "Do not call anyone else" she begins warning some of the main makers of the film, the director, ect., of the fact that the victim is the understudy of their leading lady. Or so she thinks....
Soon, after the police arrive to investigate the murder, Cass is brought to a room, along with her engineer Anders, for questioning. Cass is questioned by a Detective Inspector named Gavin Macrae, while Anders is taken away to be questioned seperately. DI Macrae is a no-nonsense sort of fellow, wanting the absolute truth from Cass. He questions her about everything from the relationship with her father to her involvement with the victim to her reasons for being out the night before the murder on her own ship, Khalida. Cass delves into the very recesses of her mind to the occurrences from the start of the filming to the discovery of the body. She also delves even deeper explaining some of the quirks of the townspeople she has known her whole life to explaining another death which had happened almost ten years before. However, she voices few of her thoughts that do not seem to pertain to the questions he asks, which gives her a better idea than him of who really could have done it.
This book is a very wonderful read. It has twists and turns, and there were some instances where I wanted to scream and throw my Kindle against the wall in aggravation for some of the characters' actions. (That, to me, is the sign of a great book.) I must warn some potential readers, though, that there are some unfamiliar words to be found throughout this book. I recommend reading the word list at the back to gain some perspective about what some of the townspeople might be saying and for references to some of the terms used with just objects or places. That helped me a great deal. I could have probably figured it out eventually, but it was nice to have a guide.
In conclusion, (sounds like I am writing a book myself with this review) I found this book engaging, mysterious, enlightening, and it taught me about a place I had never even heard of before now. The setting of this book, Shetland, seems very beautiful. I was sad to close the pages of this book and be transported back out into the real world. I recommend this to anyone, anyone at all, because it truly is one of those books that needs to be read.