I received a review copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
I want to start this review with a bit of backstory about my relationship with crime fiction. For years, I have said that thrillers and crime fiction just aren’t my thing. Ironically, though, some of my favourite TV shows are crime shows, or shows with heavy elements of the kind (think Sherlock, Lucifer etc.). So, I was wondering: why do I love detective shows, but dislike thriller/crime fiction? After thinking about it, I identified a couple of criteria to help me pick a book of this genre I might like:
- Crime fiction was going to be more up my street than thriller.
- I like crime TV shows where we follow the one investigating the case, so I wanted the story to follow the police/prosecutor etc. and not the victim, victim’s family etc.
- I wanted the detective etc. to be an INTERESTING CHARACTER. Part of what makes shows like Sherlock and Lucifer great is the character of the protagonist themselves.
And so, I decided to give a procedural crime novel with a charismatic or interesting protagonist a go! And boy, I think my analysis of my reading tastes was spot on, because based on these criteria I picked this book out of the NetGalley catalog… and I loved it!
Firstly, I will just mention that this is actually the fourth book in a series following the sea detective Cal, and I think that if I had read the other books, I might have enjoyed this one even more. That being said, it definitely works as a standalone as well, and the case itself is begun and ended within the one book. And now onto the four things that made me love this book!
1: The Concept
The concept of this book is particularly interesting. Not the case so much (missing people isn’t super cliched, but it’s hardly unique either), but the method by which the case was investigated. Cal is a sea detective, meaning that he tracks and predicts the movement of flotsam (including belongings and dead bodies) according to tides, weather etc. in order to solve cases. Think private detector for sea-related crimes. I had never heard of anything like this before, so bonus points.
2: The Characters
Did I like all of the characters? No. Were all of the characters well crafted, complex, and generally interesting? Mostly, yes. There were a few curveballs about the character of some certain characters towards the end that felt a bit out of place and I felt like the development could have been smoother, but for the most part the cast of characters are all distinct from each other, flawed but not detestable, and generally very interesting without being a “special snowflake”. I particularly love the dynamic between Cal and Helen: their friendship was realistic, complex, but also very sweet. Olaf was also a particularly interesting character. The sisterly dynamic between Flora and Kate was also very well executed.
3: The use of multiple perspectives
Sometimes the use of multiple perspectives just doesn’t work. Take Game of Thrones, for example: when I read that book, I used to flag the perspectives I was interested in as motivation because only one or two perspectives really interested me. That was absolutely not the case in this book. Although I prefer certain characters over others, there wasn’t a time when I was like “oh I when is the next X chapter going to be?”. All of the perspectives were equally useful, well-developed, and pertinent to the story. I do think it would have been nice to see a perspective from Olaf, but then again this could have ruined some of the mystery… and really it would only be to indulge my love for his character.
4: The Pacing
I don’t really have much to say about this one, but the pacing of this book was perfect and I literally never wanted to put it down.
So that was a slightly anti-climatic ending, but I think you get the idea: if you love procedural crime fiction, or if you’re considering trying out the genre for the first time… READ THIS BOOK. Seriously, just do it! And it’s out now (because I tried to write this review at least 5 times before this and kept failing) so you won’t even have to wait!
P.S. I loved this book so much that when I finished it and it was released I immediately picked up a copy!
P.P.S. Maybe I should go back and read the rest of the books in this series now…