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Saturday 10 June 2023

‘Death In A Shetland Lane’ by Marsali Taylor

Published by Headline Accent,
13 April 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-0354-0062-1 (PB)

Shetland’s favourite sailing sleuth Cass Lynch is home on leave from the training ship Sørlandet, starting to settle down to life on land with her partner DI Gavin Macrae. Spring is on the way, and Cass’s first task is giving her beloved yacht Khalida a spring-clean and getting ready for the sailing season.

But as Cass’s many loyal fans have come to expect, her life is never that simple. And sure enough, our heroine is making her way through Lerwick’s picturesque streets when the body of a young woman tumbles down a flight of steps and lands at her feet. Cass is a qualified first aider, and a member of the party the woman was with is a nurse, but their best efforts are to no avail. What’s more, it soon becomes clear her fall was no accident. Once again there’s a murderer loose in Shetland.

Trouble seems to dog Cass’s footsteps, and between musical ambitions, tensions among the victim’s friends and the rediscovery of an ancient Book of the Black Arts, she soon finds herself embroiled whether or not she wants to be. And this time she really doesn’t. She has enough on her plate with Khalida, her driving theory test which involves an overnight sail to another island (not that Cass ever turns down an excuse to sail) and a lot of soul-searching about her future with Gavin: is she prepared to abandon the sea and settle for a domestic life in order to ensure he stays around?

Cass is surrounded as always by a wealth of interesting characters, all putting pressure on her one way or another. Her parents pull in opposite directions regarding her relationship with Gavin. The murder victim’s friends want to confide in her. Other people, aware that she lives with the local police chief, are keen to convince her of their innocence. Gavin shows how glad he is to have Cass at home, and that’s the biggest pressure of all. 

Shetland itself has a part to play. There’s Up Helly Aa, the winter fire festival in all its rumbustious glory, complete with the noisy and colourful entertainment and dancing which follow the parade. There’s the island of Yell, with its own unique personality and dialect. And there’s the marina at Brae, scene not only of Cass’s labours on her yacht, but also of friction around fishing rights and the raising of a boat which has been sunk: whether by accident or from malice is one of the mysteries to be solved.

Will Cass, Gavin and Sergeant Freya Petersen solve the murders (yes, there’s more than one) before it all backfires on Cass? Will she pass her driving theory test? And most important of all, will she find a compromise which will allow her to indulge her passion for the sea without compromising her relationship with Gavin? No spoilers here – you’ll have to read the book and see. In fact, why not read it anyway, and the previous ones in the series? You won’t regret it.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Marsali Taylor  grew up near Edinburgh and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Lynne Patrick  has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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