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The Cass Lynch / Gavin Macrae novels


Death on a Longship (Accent Press, 2013): When she wangles the job of skippering a Viking longship for a film, Cass Lynch thinks her big break has finally arrived - even though it means returning home to the Shetland Islands, which she ran away from as a teenager. Then the ‘accidents’ begin - and when a dead woman turns up on the boat’s deck, Cass realises that she, her family and her past are under suspicion from the disturbingly shrewd Detective Inspector Macrae. Cass must call on all her local knowledge, the wisdom she didn’t realise she’d gained from sailing and her glamorous, French opera singer mother to clear them all of suspicion - and to catch the killer before Cass becomes the next victim.


The Trowie Mound Murders (Accent Press, 2014) 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.


A Handful of Ash (Accent Press, 2014) Liveaboard skipper Cass Lynch is busy with student life at the marine college in Shetland’s ancient capital of Scalloway – until she finds a dead girl, whose hand is smeared with peat ash. Is this part of some strange ritual linking back to the witches once burned in Scalloway? What was the horned figure seen carrying the body? Rumours begin to spread, encouraged by local Hallowe’en traditions. Then there’s a second murder ...


The Body in the Bracken Cass Lynch has been persuaded to spend Christmas in the Highlands with her friend DI Gavin Macrae, but their romantic walk by the loch is cut short when they find a skeleton among the bracken. Back home in Shetland, Cass hears about Ivor Hughson, who left his wife and failed business months ago, and hasn’t been heard of since. A near-disaster aboard Cass’s yacht suggests someone wants to stop her asking questions about his disappearance. Meanwhile, there are eerie reports of sightings of a njuggle, a Shetland water-horse which drowns curious passers-by. Soon it’s taking Cass all her wits to stay alive…

Marsali has just finished Ghosts of the Vikings, the fifth crime novel starring Cass and Gavin. Maman’s opera company is performing in the beautifully restored Georgian house, Belmont, on the island of Unst. Tensions centre around young mezzo-soprano Kamilla… but there’s also been a find of Viking treasure, and Cass’s friend Magnie enlists her help with night patrols of archaeological sites. It seems, though, that the ghost of a Viking is already defending his territory. Then there’s a murder … 

She is currently working on her sixth Cass novel, set aboard the Norwegian tall ship Sorlandet.

Cass and Gavin have also appeared in short stories: in ‘Meteors and Myths’ in the e-anthology A Case of Crime (Accent 2014) and in ‘A Christmas Murder’ in the e-anthology Wish Upon a Star (Accent Press 2014).


Footsteps in the Dew  Shetland, 1150. When Rannveig finds boastful Patrekr dead in her father's longhouse one summer morning, she knows her sister's suitor, Eilifr, isn't guilty - and she's willing to declare his innocence in front of Earl Rognvaldr the Kirk-builder at the Ting. Then there's a second death, and soon danger threatens Rannveig's father and her lively brother and sisters ... A fast-moving half-length novel of adventure and romance in Norse Shetland, set around historical events at the time of the 'three kings in Nidaros’.

Historical writing:


Women’s Suffrage in Shetland (lulu.com, November 2010, 320pp, illust): Only a small society in a remote group of islands, yet Shetland had women on the school boards as early as London and Edinburgh. The first suffrage speakers came here in 1873; the first President of the 1909 Shetland Women’s Suffrage Society marched with Mrs Pankhurst, and the second President was the wife of Asquith’s Secretary for Scotland. Taylor takes the reader from the first calls of ‘Votes for Women’ in the French and American revolutions through the long struggle up to World War I, where many Shetland woman left the isles as nurses and canteen workers, and up to the vote at last.


The Story of Busta House (Lulu.com, 2012) Busta House was once owned by Shetland’s most prosperous merchant, yet a family tragedy precipitated it into a ruinous court case which left the owner bankrupt, and his heirs dispossessed. This book tells the story of the house from the earliest records up to the present day, and ends with an account of the ‘ghost of Busta’.


Forgotten Heroines, the transcription / editing of a diary by one of Dr Elsie Inglis’ ambulance drivers on the Russian Front, 1916-17. Ysobel Birkbeck was the 'ugly duckling' daughter of a county family, and her courage and resourcefulness were put to the test on the front line - in between visits to the opera and flirting with dashing Russian officers. She came home via Petrograd just as the Revolution erupted. Printed through lulu.com, 2012, but available only through Marsali directly, or from the Shetland Times Bookshop, Commercial St, Lerwick.

The Shetland story of ‘A Baby in a Kailyard’ is included in the CWA anthology Truly Criminal.


Marsali has written over thirty plays for young people, and some of these are published by DramaWorks Adventure on Algenib, The Changeling Princess, Flat Spin, Flat Spin 2, A Good Cause, Inside Sam’s Head, The Lasses of Haaf Gruney, The story of Maggie Reid, Suspicion, Tontine, Year of the Strangers.

The Dramaworks website gives full details of these. Although first performed by a younger cast, most of these also make good community plays, with both adult and child characters.

Shetland Plays Two twenty-minute plays in the distinctive Shetland dialect. Suspeecion is the story of quiet Alethea, who gets the blame when items go missing at school... a play about the lasting consequences of idle gossip in a small community, ideal for a school cast. Da Lasses o da Haaf Gruney is based on an Unst legend, where two young girls went to milk the cows on the isle of Haaf Gruney, and are lost in mist. The telling focuses on rebellious Lise, the older girl, who has tried to keep the memory of her gipsy mother alive in the face of her own guilt and her aunt’s repression. Key themes are reconciliation and redemption.


Marsali is also the ‘in house’ writer for a series of Murder mystery evenings held locally. These were:

2011 Murder in Mexico and Cyanide apo da Croft

2012 Hoods, Molls ... and Murder!

2013 The Red Carpet Murders

Marsali has toured Shetland primary schools with her dialect ‘Drama in a Box’ Da Ketling, Da Fox and Da Muckle Rat. Teachers are given a tailored script beforehand, then Marsali arrives with costumes and staging ideas. The day can end in a performance for other classes, or the class may wish to keep rehearsing and present their play to parents as part of an end-of-term concert.




Notes from the smiling countryside:

I currently write a monthly column for the e-zine Mystery People. ‘Notes from the Smiling Countryside’ was meant to be about the struggles of a fledgling crime-writer, but gradually the cats muscled their way in ... then the ponies ... and now it’s a no-holds barred account of the Quiet Country Life.


Sailing writing:

Sailing to Norway

Sailing in Shetland

Sailing Articles in Shetland Life:

A Trip in the Lifeboat (May 2004) Rowing to Norway (August 2004) Day Skipper (October 2004) Sorlandet Trainee (July 2005) The Johnsmas Foy (July 2005) A Trip to Vementry (November 2006) A Weekend at Cowes (December 2010) The Visit of the Tall Ships (August 2011) Rowing to Faroe (September 2011)


Writing about life in Shetland:

Marsali has been writing for Shetland’s monthly magazine Shetland Life since 2003. Topics include:

The Last Lerwick Gala (July 2004); Working with e-Bay (February 2005); The Cat Protection League (March 2005); Nesting and Girlsta Up Helly A (April 2005); Selling off Shetland’s lochs (October 2005); The Threat of Bird Flu (December 2005); Interviews with Ann Cleeves (February 2006), Evelyn Hood (September 2006), Sakchai Makao (July 2006); A Shetland Tartan Army (February 2006); An amazing Collection of Brass! (September 2006); Raising money for a CAT scanner (November 2006); Hydrogen Houses (October 2007); Youth Crime in Shetland (April 2008); Tourism (July 2008); Shopping in Shetland (October 2008); Scouts (November 2008); Learning to Compute (March, 2009); A visit to the Shetland Catch Factory (April, 2009); Young people and Social Networking Sites (April, 2009); Auld Skule charity shop (May 2009)

Families Affected By alcohol and drugs

Readers’ groups

The South Mainland Up Helly A


60 North FM



Personal articles:

Aith, then and Now (January 2004); The Dancing Horses of Vienna (June 2004); Crofting in France (May 2005); Backstage in Calamity Jane (December 2005); A Holiday in Sifnos (May 2006); I love Christmas! (December 2011)


Shetland History :

Wartime Aith (August 2006); Arthur Anderson’s Norwood Grove (September 2006); Researching your Family Tree (February 2007); Shetland’s Christian Heritage (November 2010); Shetland Women at War (May 2010); The tragedy of the Whaling Ship Diana (July, August 2011), reprinted as the foreward to The Shetland Times Ltd’s re-publication of the story; The Ghost of Busta House (October 2011)

Christmas Traditions

The Tragedy of the Turnbull Family

A baby in a Kaleyard




Out and about around Shetland:

Shetland Textile Museum (May 2006); The Shetland Fishmarket (April 2010)

A Visit to Whalsay

The Volcano Trail

Shetland Archives


Animals and Nature:

Cod Farming (April 2005); The Bird Sanctuaries of Noss and Hermaness (June 2005); Michaelswood (April 2006); Shetland Festival of Nature (June 2008) Alpacas in Shetland (September 2010);

Shetland ponies

Shetland’s youngest pony breeder

Da Gairdins

Crofting in the Snow



Passage, French Institute Magazine 2001; runner-up in French writing competition.

Voyage d’un ile lointain, French Institute Magazine 2002; winner in adult section.

Death of the Other Woman, New Shetlander, 2005; short story, runner-up in Shetland writing competition.

Bringing Karima home, Yachting Monthly 2004, winner in Cruising Log competition

Philip’s first sail, Sailing Today, 2004, winner in Cruising Log competition

(Unpublished): My worst day at sea, Practical Boat Owner, 2004, winner of Sailing Story competition.

2004: Runner-up in Channel 4 / Highlands & Islands ‘Writeaway’ competition

December 2005: chosen as one of ten promising writers to be involved in the first Hi-Arts Masterclass project

2005 Runner-up for Shetland Literary Prize, short story, ‘Death of the other Woman’


Becoming a published writer doesn’t always happen straight off. Here are the ones that haven’t made it into print - yet:


The Tess / Verity series

2005 The Regatta Murders

Student Verity is suffering from a broken heart, and heads off to visit her great-aunt Tess, who lives in a remote Shetland village. There, she meets her old friend Richard, whose uncle has just died under mysterious circumstances. Soon Verity is doing her best to unmask the killer, but to her surprise Tess isn't as keen ...


2006 The Up-Helly A Murders

Indomitable Tess has been laid low by flu, and Verity comes up to nurse her. She gets involved in the local version of the Viking fire festival, Up Helly A. A dead woman is found - and this being Shetland, someone should know her, but nobody's admitting to it. Once again, Verity starts investigating ...


2007 The Galleon Murders

Verity is about to celebrate her end-of-year results when her sister Jess staggers into her flat with a tale of having seen murder done. Soon, they're on the run - and where better to head for than Aunt Tess, in remote Shetland? But it seems they're not safe even there ...


Historical romances

1990 A Crown of Roses

Naive, serious Sovra, daughter of an exiled Jacobite, is discovered in her Spanish convent by the son of her father's best friend, and taken back to England. She's restored to her place in society, and befriended by worldly, charming Lucy, but the fashions and morals of elegant Georgian life are too different from her previous life for her to be happy ...


1996 Upon Liberty

Marry in haste, repent at leisure ... so Roxana finds. Escaping from her husband in revolutionary Boston, she makes her way to Edinburgh, and uses her theatrical mother's connections to get employment at the playhouse. She makes a new life for herself among the people of the Scottish Enlightenment, but her husband has not forgotten or forgiven ...


Currently working on: A Ford Car Stunt, a novel using the WWI Russian diaries as background. The heroine, Christian Sandison, signs up as an ambulance driver with the Elsie Inglis unit, and experiences both the horror of war and the uncertain glory of love in a world which is changing around her.



Life in Shetland

2001 Half Way to Norway – autobiography, a year of the ‘quiet country life.’