The debate is who was at fault for the mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty, Fletcher Christian or Captain Bligh? The popular opinion has switched back and forth, from Bligh’s exoneration to Nordhoff and Hall’s pro-Fletcher Christian novel, (that served as the basis for at least three Hollywood movies) and back to Bligh with Caroline Anderson’s history of the Bounty that I wrote about last year. The mystery is the ultimate fate of Fletcher Christian: did he die on Pitcairn Island or did he find his back to England?
|Wordsworth – Poet and
There are rumors that not only did Christian return to England but that he looked up an old grade school chum while he was there: the poet, William Wordsworth. And it’s rumored Wordsworth turned Christian’s account of what happened into an epic poem to be published after both of them were dead. But Wordsworth’s work and the sailor both disappeared.
Enter into this historical/literary mystery, one Jane Gresham, a Wordsworth Scholar who waits tables and teaches part-time while trying to break into an academic career. Because she grew up in the area where Wordsworth and Christian once lived, she knows the rumors and starts hunting for clues, but she isn’t the only one. Wordsworth’s manuscript, if it exists, is worth millions and not everyone is as honest as Jane. Pretty soon twenty-first-century corpses are turning up to keep company with the tattooed man in the pathologist’s waiting room. Pretty soon Jane is racing known and unknown enemies to save a piece of literary history and the lives of innocent people.
We may never really know who was the “bad guy” on the HMS Bounty or what happened to Fletcher Christian. Val McDermid has given us a guess with The Grave Tattoo along with a satisfying thriller. As guesses go, her book’s more fun than trying to figure out what an elephant looks like by touch.