Guest Author Marsali Taylor

You know if you visit, that I like my mysteries!!  So when Carissa from Attica Books contacted me about today’s  guest, and I read the synopsis, I had to invite the author to stop by, visit and tell us more.  Please help me in welcoming Marsali Taylor to CMash Reads!


Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland’s scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland’s distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women’s suffrage in Shetland. She’s also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.
You can visit the author at Marsali’s WebsiteFacebookGoodreads and Pinterest.


Death on a Longship by Marsali Taylor

She was my longship.  She floated beside the boating club pontoon like a ghost from Shetland’s past, her red and ochre striped sail furled on her heavy yard half-way up the wooden mast, her painted shields mirrored on the early-morning calm water.

Okay, she belonged to Berg Productions Ltd, but I was her skipper.  Stormfugl, Stormbird.  She was 75 feet long, with a carved head snarling in a circle of teeth, a writhed tail, and a triangular log cabin on a half-deck in the stern.  Gulls were wheeling around her, bickering among themselves, as if one of them had dropped a fish.

I started Khalida’s engine and put-putted across the bay torwards the marina.  I wasn’t keen on gulls dismembering fish all over my clean decks.  I’d hosed them yesterday, after filming.  The cameramen, lighting operators, make-up, costume, best boys, grips and all the hundred people that seemed to be needed for even a simple shot had squelched the path from road to shore into dusty gravel, which had clung to the sheepskin boots of  my Viking oarsmen.  The shore had added a generous helping of sand-laden algae.  I didn’t intend to start the day re-scrubbing them.  I’d fire the gulls’ fish overboard, and let them squabble about it on the water.

It was amazing, too, that Anders hadn’t heard them.  Even someone who slept like the dead, as he did, must surely be woken by them perching on the cabin ridgepole to stretch their necks at each other.  I’d have thought he’d have been out to clear them by now.

As we entered the marina I realised that there was a white bundle lying on Stormfugl’s deck under the circle of snatching gulls.  I turned Khalida in a sharp curve and brought her up on the other side of the pontoon.  Damn the way Norwegians went for cheap British drink.  He’d obviously gone out and got blootered, staggered home and fallen, injured himself –

It wasn’t Anders.

I looked at the body lying on the half-deck, one hand stretched towards the prow and felt my newly-won promotion to skipper slipping away.  It was Maree Baker, one of the film lot, the stand-in for the star.

I was ashamed of myself for thinking first of me, but I couldn’t help Maree now.  She lay sprawled on the larch planks like a marionette washed up by the tide, the manicured nails still gleaming like shells in the bloody mess the gulls had made of the exposed hands.  There was mottled dirt on her cream silk trouser suit.  The red-gold hair falling across her face was stirring just a little in the breeze, as if at any moment she’d shake it out of her eyes and leap up.  I looked again at the back of her head, tilted up towards me, and saw the pool of blood spreading out from below her stand-in wig.  The gulls had left footprints in it, and across the deck.  I’m not squeamish about blood, but I felt sick then.  I yelled at the three that had only gone as far as the pier, orange eyes watching me, then looked back at Maree.  I didn’t want to touch her, but I had to.  I was the ship’s Master under God; captain, minister, doctor.  I curved my hand around the chilling neck and laid two fingers over the vein.  There was no flutter of pulse.

I withdrew my hand and reached into my back pocket for my mobile. 999.  No, here in Shetland, 999 would probably get me some Inverness call centre three hundred miles away, where I’d have to spell out every name twice.  I wanted Lerwick. I dived into the boating club for a phone book, and found the number.  There were two rings, then a voice.

‘Northern Constabulary, Sergeant Peterson here, can I help you?’

I took a deep breath and wished I was at sea, where the procedure was laid down.  Mayday three times, this is yacht name three times – ‘I’d like to report what looks like a fatal accident,’ I said.  ‘On board the longship Stormfugl, moored at Delting Boating Club.’

‘The film boat,’ she replied, briskly confident even at this hour of the morning. ‘Your name, madam?’

‘I’m Cass Lynch, the skipper of the boat.’

‘Remain with the body, please, Ms Lynch.  We’ll get a doctor to you as soon as possible.  Have you any idea of the casualty’s identity?’

ID was Ted’s problem.  ‘She’s lying face down.  I didn’t want to turn her over.’

‘We’ll be with you in about half an hour.  Until then, please ensure that nobody goes near the body.  And don’t call anyone.  We’ll do that.’

‘I’ll stay with the body,’ I said, but made no other promises.

I picked up a stone, and scattered the gulls with one vicious throw.


When she talks her way into a job skippering a Viking longship for a Hollywood film, Cass Lynch thinks her big break has finally arrived – even though it means returning home to the Shetland Islands, a place she hasn’t set foot on since she ran away as a teenager to pursue her dreams of sailing. When a dead woman turns up on the boat’s deck, Cass, her past and her family come under suspicion from the disturbingly shrewd Detective Inspector Macrae.

Cass must call on all her local knowledge of Shetland, the wisdom gained from years of sailing, and her glamorous, French opera singer mother to clear herself and her family of suspicion – and to catch the killer before Cass becomes the next victim.


Giveaway Info
Marsali is giving away THREE prizes; a copy of Death on a Longship at each blog stop on her tour, a 1st place grand prize giveaway at the end of the tour of some silver Viking-inspired jewelry from the Shetland Islands, and a 2nd place $15 Amazon gift card.

1) To win a book:  (open internationally for ebook or the US, UK, and Canada for a print book). Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.


2) To win Viking-inspired Jewelry OR a $15 Amazon gift card: Click the link to go to the contest’s website and enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post. A first and second place lucky winner will be selected on October 1st. First place person gets to choose which grand prize he/she wants. The second place person gets the remaining grand prize. Open to every country.
Here’s the contest’s website >

No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

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