• Shea Robinson

The Devil and the Dark Water Book Review

Welcome to another Crawford’s Mysteries and More! Book Club Novel Review. Novels read in book club will fall into the following categories: Detective (crime is solved by a detective/police officer), Cozy (no violence), Caper (told from the criminal’s POV), and More (not strictly a mystery)! Mysteries will be reviewed based upon the crime taking place, the intrigue of the information that gets revealed, the relative success of red herrings, and the satisfaction of the ending.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a Detective Mystery Novel, but more closely aligned with the “who-dunnit” style! Departing from the trend of my last several mystery reviews, this book is a stand alone novel and the second of this bestselling author’s works.

The year is 1634. The stage is the Saardam, a ship sailing on the Indian Ocean, leaving Batavia (or what is now Jakarta, Indonesia) and heading for Amsterdam, Netherlands. The cast is a literal motley crew of dignitaries, officers, and crew members who not only have to handle the seas but are also faced with transporting a prisoner and two mysterious pieces of cargo. And that was before the devil presented itself. The intrigue is why the Governor General is set on boarding a haunted ship, why the Captain doesn’t seem to care, and how the Bear and the Sparrow are intricately connected to the crime.

Turnton’s craft is in providing you with the scene without overwhelming you with the unnecessary details. As he apologizes in the back of the book, he wasn’t perfectly accurate about the history of the time or Indiamen. He believed his time was better spent in being precise in the desires of his characters, how he raised the stakes, and what the fallout would be.

The crime is perfect: who is the devil after and will he get his dues? The intrigue of the information is delicious because the detective is imprisoned and so we must rely on someone who’s not very canny but cares enough to continue the job. The red herrings are aplenty and the drama so fun that you don’t care that you’re being cast about from red herring to red herring like a noble trying to walk the Saardam during a storm. I read this book in two sittings and when I got to the end I wanted to dive back into the story to see what I had missed

And for extra points, Turnton even gives us the title as a part of the unraveling mystery and it just feels so right.

Pick up your copy soon. The Devil and the Dark Water is Crawford's Books August Book Club pick. Grab your copy today and then join the virtual meeting on August 12, from 6:30-7:30pm.

Interested in what the Mysteries and More Book Club is reading? Check out past reviews and what’s on the horizon: 1/14 Magpie Murders, 2/11 The Henna Artist, 3/11 Mr. Mercedes, 4/8 And Justice There is None, 5/13 The Song of Achilles, 6/10 The Big Sleep, 7/8 The Ice Princess, 8/12 The Devil and the Dark Water, 9/9 A Duty to the Dead, 10/14 Long Bright River, 11/11 The Guest List, 12/ 9 American Dirt

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