St. Martin's Press
Published: Apr 15, 2008
An intriguing, 200-year-old mystery propels this multilayered stand-alone from British author McDermid set in England's Lake District. Scholar Jane Gresham pursues her theory that HMS Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian returned secretly from exile to his homeland in the late 18th century. A shriveled body found in a bog seems to bear resemblance to this dashing hero, right down to the South Sea tattoos that blacken his buttocks. Jane searches relentlessly for a lost manuscript by the poet Wordsworth that relates Christian's tale in tantalizing excerpts between chapters. Various subplots complicate her quest, including a fraught friendship with precocious 13-year-old Tenille, a lonely, mixed-race girl who also loves Romantic poetry. With a feminist, socially conscious spin, McDermid (_The Distant Echo_) vividly contrasts marginal subsistence in London's dismal Marshpool neighborhood with the Lake District's bucolic lifestyle. Boasting blurbs from such notable authors as Harlan Coben, Tess Gerritsen and Joseph Finder, this could be McDermid's break-out book. 100,000 printing; author tour. (Feb.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Adult/High School—During an English summer of record-breaking rains, a peat bog in the Lake District opens to reveal a 200-year-old body bearing South Pacific island tattoos. The area, home to Romantic poets, is where Jane Gresham, Wordsworth scholar, grew up, and she finds her interest piqued by the news. She has long believed that Fletcher Christian, HMS Bounty mutineer, didn't die on Pitcairn Island but returned to England. She has theorized that Christian recounted his adventures to his old schoolmate Wordsworth, who wrote them down, and those documents and a related poem, now worth millions, lay forgotten in a local home. In the race to retrieve the valuable manuscripts, Jane finds herself competing against sinister forces that would stop at nothing, including murder, to reach them first. The suspenseful story and its subplots, which include Jane's friendship with 13-year-old poetry-loving Tenille, who lives in Jane's London public housing project, create an absorbing thriller. McDermid establishes a strong sense of place in the atmospheric and pastoral Lake District that contrasts sharply with the sprawling housing project. Historical and literary references to Wordsworth's life and work and to the South Pacific adventures of the Bounty mutineers all help to make this novel come alive. Teens will enjoy the lively characters, brisk pace, and careful unraveling of the centuries-old mystery with its satisfactory conclusion.—_Susanne Bardelson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA_ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.