Thursday, February 04, 2021

Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Title: The Devil and the Dark Water
Author: Stuart Turton
Published: October 2020, Sourcebooks Landmark
Format: Hardcover, 463 pages
Source: Personal copy

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.

The breathtaking new novel from Stuart Turton, author of the The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Stuart Turton and it absolutely will not be the last. I actually have his debut, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle sitting on my shelf and will be reading that one soon.

I loved this book but I will say you need patience and a lot of time to read it. This is definitely the kind of book that needs to be read in large chunks if not in one or two sittings so as to keep up with what is going on. I also found the character list in the beginning of the book to be extremely helpful - there are a lot of characters and in the beginning I admit, I had a little trouble keeping track of who was who.

Historical mysteries are quickly becoming one of my favorite types of books to read and when you add in that slight fantasy element it just ups the suspense level, in my opinion. This book just captivated me from the start and kept me flipping the pages, trying to figure out who was behind the curse and what, if anything, was going to happen to the ship. 

I also loved the locked room mystery - there are murders happening on-board this ship that is in the middle of the open seas. Clearly there is a murderer amongst them and Hayes needs to get to the bottom of it before more people are killed. But in doing so, we are presented with so many possible suspects and I loved that as we learn more about these characters backgrounds, it becomes clear that just about everyone has motive.

This is such a smart, thrilling mystery with so many moving parts that eventually do all come together. Think of a giant jigsaw puzzle that keeps getting turned around and that is what you have here. Every time we move forward and something new comes to light, we are also given a new twist that shakes things up. It really is quite brilliantly plotted and I couldn't have loved the book more! Now I'm quite eager to pick up Evelyn Hardcastle and will certainly be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this uber talented author!



1 comment

  1. I've wondered about this one! I loved 7 1/2 Deaths but it was super hard to keep everything straight -- cannot imagine how the author put together all of those tiny little details. I'm more of a skimmer with long books, so I need to set aside brain time to read this one.


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