Publication date Oct 2020/ Publisher Raven Books
A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.
It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed 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.
But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.
And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.
Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?
With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.
A ship filled with secrets sails the seas from Batavia to Amsterdam.
Why is Samuel Pipps imprisoned?
Who was the leper that cursed this ship?
What is the Folly?
How will I stop myself from calling in sick at work to finish this book?
Those are the first questions I asked myself and far from the last. The intrigue is almost unbearable with The Devil And The Dark Water and just as with Turton’s previous novel I find myself desperate for answers.
Let me share with you an excerpt from early on in the novel.
“All eyes were on the symbol on the sail, so nobody saw Creesjie Jens grip the railing of the quarterdeck, the colour draining out of her cheeks. Nobody saw Sander Kers close the huge book held in Isabel’s hands, hiding the picture of the eye drawn there. Nobody saw the boatswain, Johannes Wyck, touch his eyepatch in memory. And nobody saw Arent stare incredulously at the scar on his wrist, which was exactly the same shape as the mark on the sail.”
This was the moment I really settled in for the ride.
At a mere 15% into the book the first plot twist leaps out from just one flippant sentence and already I knew this was going to be another spectacular tale from Stuart Turton.
Ooh that world building. You can almost smell the sea and sweaty sailors, hear the creaking of wood and feel the weight of claustrophobic darkness over your head. Incase you hadn’t already guessed I LOVED this novel. The atmosphere is palpable and changes to perfectly reflect each characters perspective.
I adored Arent in particular. Cliche as it might be, the loyal and loveable thug with a dark past gets me in the feels every darn time. A man that can even bend the will of the uncaring General Haan, Arent’s selflessness and respect for Pipps and Sara was a heartwarmer on a dark and scary voyage. The ‘bear and the sparrow’ tell of an endearing friendship and I was immediately invested in their plight.
I was thrilled to discover a new POV at 75% in, I won’t spoil the surprise but the additional insight to this character’s backstory was a welcome treat. I’ve never known an author to pack so many twists and questions into a novel the way Turton does. The careful unspooling and interlinking of plotlines flows so well that nothing feels unnecessary. Every event whether major or minor has a purpose that you’d never predict.
There’s a very Poirot/Holmes tone to the grand finale of both novels by Turton in the way the characters finally piece the puzzle together. These revelations are so intricately detailed they leave the reader in awe whilst giving the story definitive closure.
In a word. Wow.