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3.3 out of 5 stars
The Grave Tattoo
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2006
This two word description on the front cover really sums up the book for me.
Everything is just one tiny step from the everyday, which, for me, makes it all the more exciting. It's all utterly believeable. You could easily know any of the characters.
I don't understand why other reviews have criticised the characters. I find them really vivid, real, visible.
On Sunday 12th March 2006 the BBC programme Countryfile was presented from the Lake District and it was alarming to see how close this book is to reality in terms of Wordsworth and the missing manuscripts. A poem by Wordsworth turned up around just 30 years ago.
Val McDermid's writing is wonderful. I looked forward to picking it up and enjoyed every page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2014
I don't generally like this author's books - they are too violent and dwell too much on the serial killer theme. But this is a bit different. It is largely set in Wordsworth country - with a few detours into the grittier London estates. It centres on the story of Fletcher Christian of Bounty fame and his possible return to England. His might be the body discovered in a lake district bog and the novel deals with the search for a lost Wordsworth document linked to this story.

It is a slightly strained plot and its twists and turns are not wholly convincing. But a lively literary scholar is sure that there is such a document and her search for it leads to a number of deaths. A subsidiary plot involving her teenage London neighbour on the run from the police is a lot less successful.

A part of the plot involves family history research and the author really does not seem to have much knowledge about it - her heroine could have used Ancestry or Genes Reunited and saved a lot of time!

I enjoyed this novel a lot.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2006
I do like being proven wrong.
I actually went along to the talk and signing of this book by the author at my local library. My two friends had stacks of previous titles they wanted Val to sign, I just went along for something to do.
I have only read one book by Val McDermaid, and because we arrived late into the lecture theatre and missed the beginning, I was quite sure that total would stay at one. Val was talking about the Lake District, Fletcher Christian, Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh, Wordsworth, etc, etc.........I think I had a little snooze at this point, I'd had a long day. Anyway, I revitalised myself slightly when Val was answering questions, (in between great swigs of Stella Artois, [Val, not me, I stuck to the free coffee and gypsy creams.]) and it wasn't a bad evening.
Back to the book - I managed to get hold of a copy to see what all the fuss was about, and knowing that there was some criminal element weaved into the plot, I thought it couldn't be all that bad.
I nearly read it one go. It had everything you would want from a great crime novel, especially if you are a geek, and you get to learn something new. If, like me, you know nothing of the mutiny and Fletcher Christian and Pitcairn, (I bet you're thinking now, 'eh?'), don't worry, its a top read, nice and easy, with beautiful language.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2006
I`ve enjoyed all of Val McDermid`s thrillers, and so I was really looking forwards to this latest book from her. Unfortunately, it was a huge let down. In fact, and this is something that I almost find unbelievable of a Val McDermid book, I couldn`t find the enthusiasm to finish it.
The characters were not only uninteresting, but also unlikeable, and the plot was far too slow. The book centres around the main character`s search for a lost Wordsworth poem. It was impossible to share her interest in this!
I recently read, and thoroughly enjoyed the Peter James book, "Dead Simple", which was gripping from page one. In comparison, 140+ pages into this book, there was nothing to hold my interest.
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on 31 January 2015
Well, there's not much risk of this being a spoiler in the conventional meaning of the term, because I didn't (couldn't) finish it. So many books and so little time - I'm not prepared to waste more time and money than already invested, so it's off to Oxfam.
This is, simply, a poor book. It's full of cliches, lacks realism, fails on competent research, and in places is just daft. The whole thing around the shotgun murder of a possible paedophile,( in which the hardened criminal killer leaves the fingerprinted gun in place, the child in question sets a fire to protect the murderer (who is said to be her father) and then bus-hops her way to Cumbria to find the heroine) is just ludicrous. It reads like a badly scripted television series, and if the intention was to interest a prospective TV commissioner, it surely will fail.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2007
When I first heard about this book, I though it a fascinating idea that Fletcher Christian may have returned to the Lake District to visit his friend Wordsworth. Unfortunately, from early on in the story, I was very disappointed with it. The integration of the present day story with the Fletcher Christian mystery did not work for me and the written passages supposedly from Fletcher's diary could have been omitted altogether. There were also too many characters and too many sub-plots. Many of the characters were unbelievable and several of the sub-plots were left unresolved. As far as 'whodunnit', it almost seemed as if the writer did not decide until the end who the villain would be - and then glossed over any inconsistencies!

Having read many of Val's books, I expected much more and found this frustrating rather than an enjoyable read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2006
I can understand writer's wishing to flex their muscles and break out of the constraints that previous novels have set for them but this is poor in comparison to other stand alone works that Val Mcdermid has written. Characters are poorly portrayed within a weak plot. The basic premise was interesting but poorly executed and the concocted "journal" of Fletcher Christian did not add anything to the flow of the story. Therefore if you are interested in trying any of Val McDermid's stand alone books, then please spend your money on "A Place of Execution", and if you feel you must read this get it from your local library.
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on 26 August 2013
I'd heard and read a lot about Val McDermid, but this was the first of her books I'd actually tried. I was disappointed! She could have turned the Fletcher Christian story into an intriguing mystery, with a proper resolution, but all we got were the thin 'journal' entries, which left us little the wiser about what happened to him when he returned to England. The heroine of the present-day story, Jane, was a bit of a cipher - I much preferred the forensic anthropologist, River Wilde, but she was away having fantastic sex with her policeman lover so didn't make many appearances. I sussed who the nasty guy was early on, though I read to the end to make sure I'd got it right. What a missed opportunity all round!
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on 10 September 2013
I will start by that I am a fan of Val's and have read more than 20 of her novels (those featuring Tony Hill being by far my favourite). I was disappointed by this offering and struggled to read it to completion. Somehow the characters were not as vivid as I've come to expect, and like other readers found Tenille utterly unbelievable, and dare I say it, a sterotyped cliche. Val's usual excellent ear for dialogue was absent and there were some glaring information dumps as exposition through some jarring speech. Overall, this is okay and perfectly suitable as an airport time filler, but if you're looking for a novel that you'll come back to again and again, this is sadly not it.
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on 17 April 2013
The Grave Tattoo This novel must rate as one of my favourites. Not only a first class thriller but a literary puzzle thrown in. A bog body that may link one of our greatest poets to one of our more notorious historical figures. The pace doesn't let up for a moment and the action takes the reader from the calm of the Lake District to the criminal underworld of a London sink estate and back to the Lakes, taking some of those dark terrors of the city into that beautiful setting and how chilling to realise that every old lady you visit dies in mysterious circumstances immediately after. Not to be missed...
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