Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Death on a Longship by Marsali Taylor (5/5)

By Kayla West

[For giveaway rules and entry instructions, see the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post]

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.

Five out of Five stars.
About the Author:  Marsali Taylor was born in the 'honest toon' of Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1958. Her childhood was made magical by summers spent in a remote cottage in the West Highlands – the loch where her family enjoyed boat excursions and picnics with ‘Aunt Ysabel’, the diarist of Forgotten Heroines. Marsali bought her first boat aged 17, a lightweight sailing dinghy which she still takes out on calm days. Other ‘gap’ year experiences included being an au-pair for a French Countess and working in an old-fashioned department store.

She read English at Dundee University, continued her sailing, became involved in amateur dramatics and was confirmed in the Catholic church. She went on to teacher training college and as a probationer moved to Shetland, to teach English, French and Drama. There she acquired a house, garden, cats and ponies, joined a local drama group and became a member of the community. In 2007 she reduced her teaching time to two days, to be able to concentrate on writing. In 2008, she qualified as a tourist guide for Shetland, and now spends much of the summer waxing lyrical about ponies and puffins. Her husband Philip is a theatre musician and composer. She has one daughter, Marnie, who is an actor in London, and two grandchildren.


About the Reviewer:  Kayla West is an avid reader who tends to read a little too much for her own good. By day she is a home healthcare worker and by night, or late afternoon, she is the lead character in any good story that can truly spark her imagination. She loves to read fantasy and historical fiction, but is ready and willing to have an open mind about any type of work. Books by unknown authors, or at least unknown to her, are her very favorites to read, because she believes that those stories, the unknown stories, are sometimes where the magic truly happens.  To learn more about Kayla, visit her blog at


The GiveawayAttica Books is giving away a paperback copy of Death on a Longship to one lucky reader.  And with a glowing review like this, who wouldn’t want to get a copy of their own?  Contest is open only to entrants in the United States and Great Britain.  Sign up using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love murder mysteries, and this sounds like a good one—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  2. This does sound like a good seafaring murder mystery and if the book had you wanting to scream at the characters, then even better :)

    1. We've come to expect good things from Attica Books. They don't disappoint.

  3. I noticed this one when you got it in your mailbox forever ago - so excited to hear it is so good! Transporting to a new country, sailing on a viking ship for the first time...catching a murderer, sounds like fun. Thanks for the chance to win
    Great review