The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
An impossible murder
A remarkable detective duo
A demon who may or may not exist
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.
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.
The Devil and the Dark Water (Raven Books) by Stuart Turton is a fantastic historical adventure on the high seas with so many twists and turns and more than just interesting characters that makes Turton’s second novel one not to miss if you enjoyed his first.
Set in 1634 and the renowned detective Samuel Pipps is on-board a ship that has set sail from the Dutch East Indies but he is not investigating a crime more a case that he himself is under arrest. The ship is bound for Amsterdam where Pipps will stand trial and he may even face execution if found guilty. Determined to prove his innocence is his bodyguard Arent Hayes.
The Saaradam is carrying cargo and also some interesting passengers among them Sara Wessel and her husband who just happens to be the governor general of Batavia from where they are sailing from. But there is another passenger aboard the ship. The gruelling journey will take approximately eight months to reach Amsterdam. Even before the ship has sailed a leper warns the passengers and crew that a demon by the name of Old Tom is already on-board ship and their fate is sealed. The leper then meets a grizzly end.
The ship sets sail and things do not go smoothly as the crew and passengers begin to wonder what is going to happen as murder and fate awaits. There is of course one passenger who may yet be of help but he is locked up in the deep in the ship. As a ferocious storm approaches there is whispers of another ship stalking them in the distance, could this be the ghost ship that was mentioned?
There are supernatural overtones within the plot as well as secrets, intrigue and murder. Turton has weaved together a gripping mystery novel along with many characters on the Saaradam that have no-where to run or escape ‘Old Tom’ but for some only death awaits.
The book runs close to 600 pages so this is heavy book but superbly written with historical references. A rollicking good read, and if you enjoy a mystery novel set on the high seas and will be in many reader’s selections of best fiction of the year.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is published by Raven Books and was published on 1st October 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org