The Devil and the Dark Water

Tantor Audio. 2020. 1,701p. ISBN 9781705268476. $34.99. F
The year is 1634. A ship heading to Amsterdam with important passengers and cargo is under siege. Even before the voyage begins a leper threatens the passengers and ship, then bursts into flame. But once the ship sets sail, he keeps appearing. Strange symbols pop up all over the ship. And rumors begin about an old devil who has come back to collect his due. The world’s greatest detective, Samuel Pipps, along with his faithful bodyguard, Arent Hayes, are on the passenger manifest. Unfortunately, Pipps is in manacles, leaving Arent, who insists he isn’t in Pipps’s class, tasked with solving the case. If Arent, and Sarah, one of the important personages, aren’t able sort fact from fiction, the ship and all aboard are doomed. Narrator James Cameron Stewart imbues Turton’s story with constant tension, relying on pacing and accented characterizations to bring the story to its unnatural crescendo and satisfying conclusion. Hearing Sarah blossom under Arent’s genuine interest; feeling the fear when the ghost ship appears nightly; listening as allegiances break and old grudges are satisfied—Stewart has much to work with here and he masters it.
VERDICT A successful novel that will be welcome in all fiction/mystery collections.
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