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The Devil and the Dark Water

by Stuart Turton

Ooooo this is a fabulous whodunnit full of sailor’s superstitions, mystery and derring-do on the high seas!  Set at a time when the United East India Company was the wealthiest trading company in existence, shipping mace, pepper, spices and silks back to Amsterdam, journeys took eight months and were fraught with danger.  Oceans were unmapped, navigational aids were rudimentary and those on board were at the mercy of disease, storms and pirates.  What a great meaty read!  As Ali Land, author of Good Me, Bad Me says its “an absolute razztwizzler of a novel!”

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia, amongst others. Conditions are cramped and foul.  The sailors are brutal and the noble passengers untrustworthy.

But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?  With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board…

Turton has got his world up and running inside the first two pages; thereafter, deceptions and diversions multiply until the ultimate, outrageous reveal, at which point the dark water turns out to be rather darker than you imagined. – The Guardian

Stunningly good. A page-turning mystery on an epic scale, intricately plotted and expertly landed — Simon Lelic

Stuart Turton has done it again. The Devil and the Dark Water is mind bending, genre bending, intricate, vivid, intelligent and with one of the most gloriously grizzly cast of characters ever. An absolute razztwizzler of a novel! — Ali Land

A glorious mash-up of William Golding and Arthur Conan Doyle — Val McDermid

An added bonus for me is that the author, Stuart Turton, obviously has a wonderful sense of humour.  His dedication to his two year old daughter is utterly adorable and apparently before he became a Costa Award winning author he did every job you can possibly imagine.  “Goat farming was the best.  Cleaning toilets was the worst!”

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