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 couple of years ago I read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton’s magnificent first book. It absolutely blew me away, and remains one of my favourite books. You have read it, haven’t you? Lord knows I’ve pestered enough people about how good it is.
And here we have Stuart Turton’s second book. Unrelated to Evelyn Hardcastle, we now find ourselves in 1634 on the good ship Saardam on a voyage from Batavia to Amsterdam. Along with a mysterious cargo, we are in the company of Samuel Pipps, master detective, and his Watson, Arent Hayes. Also on board are a Christie-esque cast of characters, and before long the bodies start piling up…
This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I’ve had a copy on order since forever (signed, sprayed edges, map, glorious), but jumped at the chance to get my hands on an early review copy. I raced through the book in a couple of days, pausing only to force myself to slow down and savour the story.
Turton has delivered another fantastic mystery which kept me guessing the whole way through. I enjoyed that the story’s ‘great detective’ is locked up, forcing the ever-loyal Hayes to take up the mystery solving. And what a mystery! The cast of suspects is splendidly broad and everyone has a secret to hide, as you’d expect. Murder, superstition, storms, ghost ships, this book as it all!
Just splendid. One of my books of the year, for sure. Get your order in now. Just decide which of the various sprayed edged editions you like the most.
And can we take a moment to admire that cover? Did you spot the skull hiding out in the waves? Is it Old Tom, out to get the Saardam? You’ll have to read to find out!
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is published by Raven Books in October 2020. Many thanks to Laura Meyer at Raven Books for the advance copy to review.