The Trowie Mound Murders
Book Two in The Shetland Sailing Mysteries by Marsali Taylor.
When a visiting yachting couple go missing from the Shetland oil capital of Brae, sailing skipper Cass Lynch overcomes her mistrust of the land world to ask for help from her old adversary DI Gavin Macrae. He discovers a link to international art theft, and warns Cass to steer clear – but when one of her sailing pupils goes missing, she goes alone to discover the secrets of the Neolithic tomb known locally as a ‘trowie mound’ ... Ghosts, folklore and a nail-biting finale at the local show come together to make an atmospheric, fast-moving thriller.
Marsali grew up near Edinburgh, Scotland. Her summer family holidays were spent in a remote cottage in the West Highlands, the region where her detective Gavin Macrae lives. Like her sailing heroine, Cass, she has always been used to boats, and used her ‘gap year’ earnings to buy her first sailing dinghy, Lady Blue. She studied English at Dundee University, did a year of teacher training and took up her first post, teaching English and French to secondary children in Aith, Shetland. Gradually her role expanded to doing drama too, and both primary and secondary pupils have won prizes performing her plays at the local Drama Festival. Some of these plays were in Shetlandic, the local dialect.
Marsali teaches dinghy sailing at her local club, and is a keen single-handed sailor in her Offshore 8 m yacht, Karima S – the double of Cass’s Khalida.
A qualified STGA green badge tourist guide for Shetland, she now spends a good deal of her summer sharing her home with visitors from overseas. She is particularly interested in women’s history, and has published Women’s Suffrage in Shetland, two years’ worth of original research. She followed this with The Story of Busta House, the romantic tale of the house which is the setting for part of Death on a Longship.
Marsali also writes for the monthly magazine Shetland Life – a mixture of travel writing, interviews, investigative journalism and historical research.
‘I know how you got that scar,’ the boy said, eyes travelling along the ragged indentation that ran across my cheek.
I wasn’t going to let him see any reaction. He was in his mid-teens, sturdily built, with the tan of someone who’s rarely indoors, glossy black hair, and a seaman’s earring dangling from his left ear, a gold hoop with a cross. He had grey-green eyes, set close together over a beaked nose, and very dark lashes, half-lowered at the moment so that he could watch me slantways from behind them, like a cormorant keeping an eye on a dangling fish.
I was still trying to place him. I was getting to know most of the children in the area, and his face was familiar. Not one of the club’s sailors
– then I remembered this face smiling insolently at me from under a helmet. He’d come to fetch his little brother on a quad. His brother was Alex, a keen sailor who was still working his way through the wind-still in the marina’s rocky entrance behind me. Olaf Johnston’s son – Norman, that was his name. I remembered Olaf from school, and wasn’t at all surprised that he’d turned into a parent who let his children charge around the roads on the quad; he likely considered that making them wear a helmet was discharging his duty to health and safety.
He wasn’t a parent who’d be much help in the present situation.
It was a bonny, bonny evening. Even though it was almost nine o’clock the sun shone steadily on above the hill to the west and glinted on the water. The tide had turned an hour ago, and was just beginning to sidle down from the warmed concrete of the slip. The silver ghost of a three-quarters moon gleamed above the eastern hills. The force 3 southerly had kept the pink-sailed Picos scudding briskly around their racing triangle, and we’d all been having a really good time until there was a high-whine engine roar from the jetty below the clubhouse, then this boy bounced out on his jet-ski, curving around the dinghies to rock them, and flipping in between them to send water glittering over them. I’d resolved to have a word with him once he came ashore again.
‘Look,’ I said, ‘I know this is a public slip, but there’s no need for you to be driving your jet-ski so close to these beginner sailors.’
He ignored that. ‘Your boyfriend shot at you. Then you pushed him overboard and left him to drown.’