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Mystery Books - Val McDermid - The Grave Tattoo

The Grave Tattoo
Val McDermid
Harper Collins

The Grave Tattoo is a wonderfully entertaining novel. When the Cumbrian summer rains uncover a bog body tattooed in the style of South Seas natives a local legend receives a fresh breath of life. Since the death of William Wordsworth Lakelanders have gossiped that another local son Fletcher Christian had returned home to the Lake District to tell his story to his Wordsworth. Christian wanted to set the record straight about himself, the mutiny on the Bounty and the events on Pitcairn Island. As the legend goes Wordsworth, afraid of implicating himself or his family with Bounty mutineer kept the project quiet to be released after his death but it was never found. Professor Jane Gresham, a Wordsworth scholar and a native of the Lake District, is driven by her belief in the legend and when the body emerges from the bog it doesn't take much to convincer her that it could be Fletcher Christian. Jane's search for the manuscript which could be worth millions start meeting an untimely end.

Val McDermid is a superb writer who seems to understand that novels can have great plots, great characters and good dialogue all at the same time. McDermid is a consummate story teller who creates multilayered and intense primary and secondary stories that keep you guessing right up until the very end of the narrative. What is even more astounding is the very clever disarming of the only unexploded bomb in the story – Wordsworth’s mystery poem about Fletcher Christian’s experiences. McDermid demonstrates with The Grave Tattoo that her success and the multitude of writing awards that have come her way are the result of great talent and hard work.

The Grave Tattoo is a must read.   

Denis Bernicky

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