The Grave Tattoo

  • by Val McDermid
  • Narrated by Kate Reading
  • 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

After torrential summer rains uncover a bizarrely tattooed body on a Lake District hillside, a long-disregarded old wives' tale takes on a chilling new plausibility. For centuries, Lakelanders have whispered that Fletcher Christian, made infamous by Mutiny on the Bounty, staged the massacre on Pitcairn so that he could return home. And once there, what if 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 harboring 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.

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What the Critics Say

"Against the backdrop of England's idyllic Lake District, McDermid...renders a supremely satisfying tale in which matters of heart and mind are entwined." (Booklist)
"Absorbing modern mystery....McDermid's mix of historical and literary clues with modern detection is handled with panache." (The Times, London)
"One of our most accomplished crime writers...compelling." (Glasgow Herald)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Sort of like AS Byatt's Possession,

This book pleasantly reminded me of A.S. Byatt's Possession, which I loved (and you should go get, if you haven't read it yet.) Like Byatt's book, this book plays on a literary mystery, bringing together the mystery of the mutiny on the bounty with the life of William Wordsworth and a modern-day search for documents that could make or break careers, and be worth a small fortune to the owners. I am an English professor (of American literature, however), so I love this stuff, if it's done well, and this one is.

Sometimes detective fiction seems to approach non-straight characters almost with tongs and a crinkled nose, so I especially like about this book is that gay and lesbian characters are included as a matter of course (although the central character is straight), and they are fully human.

Finally, I don't know where the other reviewer got the idea that this is Christian fiction (must have been a mis-characterization based on the name Christian Fletcher). Obviously, this is not a "Christian" text, thank heavens, and the language is suited to the areas that the people are coming from and the lives they are leading.

(And I suspect Christ hung out with a lot of people whose language was deemed crude--ironically, in fact, St. Augustine rejected Christianity for a long time simply because the Gospels were written in such a crude, street language, not the Classical Greek he was trained to respect. End of sermon!)
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- salamander

Ehhh so-so

Val McDermid writes some great books that I love; this isn't one of them. I give her credit for an imaginative idea...Fletcher Christian in a British village mystery. But it's just boring. I didn't care a whit about the characters and some situations were out of character as well. I really didn't care who the killer was and the ending was ... "oh how convenient."

I don't really recommend it.
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- Deborah

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-02-2007
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio