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The Grave Tattoo Hardcover – 1 Feb 2006

3.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (1 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007142854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007142859
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

It's a time-honoured tradition that the best crime writers begin to chafe at the constraints of their area of the genre and feel a need to stretch their literary muscles. With The Grave Tattoo, the estimable Val McDermid demonstrates that she, too, has felt the need of a change from her contemporary novels of crime and detection, and here takes on a truly ambitious panoply. Not that McDermid has been afraid to tackle unconventional subjects before--it's just that the scale of this novel is even more impressive. A corpse is discovered on a hill in the Lake District, adorned with bizarre tattoos. Wordsworth expert Jane Gresham finds herself distracted from her studies of the great Lakeland poet when another mystery surfaces, involving the Pitcairn Massacre and the events of the mutiny on the Bounty. Is it possible that Fletcher Christian, who led the rebellion against Captain Bligh, faked his own death and clandestinely returned to England? Jane makes a connection between the tattooed body and the tattoos on sailors who served in the South Seas--is this the body of Fletcher Christian? And Jane has another problem on her hands--a young girl who she has tried to help finds herself a murder suspect, and tracks her down to the Lakes. And as Jane closes in on a Wordsworth manuscript that may be a direct transcription of Fletcher Christian’s confession, she finds herself with someone else on her trail--an ex-lover with similar designs on the precious document.

As all this might suggest, McDermid has set herself a truly daunting task here, with a canvas so crammed with incident, colour and character. And when the reader learns that the central narrative is counterpointed with sections from the Fletcher Christian document, it's clear that we are a long way away from the medical and criminological puzzles of Wire in the Blood. It is to McDermid's credit that she draws so many strands together with such assurance.
--Barry Forshaw

Review

‘An irresistible combination of contemporary psychological thriller and historical mystery' Tess Gerritsen

‘Cunning and gripping… A substantially entertaining novel which grips the reader’s interest from the first page until the final deeply satisfying sentence’ Express

‘Trying to solve a 200-year-old mystery becomes increasingly lethal and readable' Mirror

‘One of the world’s leading mystery writers…Thomas Harris crossed with Agatha Christie, if you will… A great read. England’s heritage history has never been so chilling’ Observer

‘Safe for the squeamish… one of her best’ Literary Review

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
I'm a longstanding McDermid fan but this is a real disappintment.
Well-written,of course. A good, skilfully woven plot, of course. But where is the humour and the sense that the characters are anything other than cardboard cut-outs. And what's more, I really don't care about any of them.
Please get back to basics, Val
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit I am a bit perplexed with regard to some of the reviews for this book. The bad reviews were the reason I didn't read this book earlier, but I finally decided I would judge for myself - and I am so glad I did.

I read this book in 2 days (stopping only for boring things like work!) and enjoyed every single word of it. This is a real page turner, a thought-provoker, an education (as I knew nothing about the Mutiny) and a sheer joy to read. I had goose-pimples by the finale as by then I really cared about the characters and how things sorted themselves out for them.

By anyone's standards, this is excellent story-telling. It may not be what we are all used to from Val McDermid but as far as I am concerned, this is a fantastic book in its own right. Read it but read it with an open mind and don't expect it to be what you are used to.

The Grave Tattoo along with A Place of Execution, are the books Val McDermid was born to write - and I am deeply hoping that she was born to write many more like this.
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