Samuel Pipps is the greatest detective of his day--but now he's a prisoner, accused of an unknown crime by one of the world's most powerful men. Along with his faithful sidekick Arent Hayes, they're sailing back to Amsterdam from the East Indies, where he'll stand trial. But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage.
... all about narrative pleasure. In the service of its high-speed, self-aware twists and turns, characters often talk as if they know they’re in a book, and are either nudging a forgetful reader or winking at a complicit one. They’ll undergo heavy-gauge backstory additions to fit them for a reveal or for their next set of tasks and excitements; our idea of the character as we already know them will conflict for a page or two with their new demeanour, then succumb as our sympathies tilt to accommodate. This helps the author convey the emotional charge of each scene in a quick-and-dirty fashion ... Events approach at dizzying speeds and recede almost immediately into the distance, decaying into the fog of battle and shipwreck. The locked room murder meets a Michael Bay movie, by way of Treasure Island; you can’t know what’s going on, if only because the author won’t let you know until he’s delivered the final surprise – and another one after that. The effect is irresistible. Turton has got his world up and running inside the first two pages; thereafter, deceptions and diversions multiply until the ultimate, outrageous reveal, at which point the dark water turns out to be rather darker than you imagined.
... artfully combines intriguing characters, fascinating historical details and a seafaring labyrinth of twists and turns ... There is never a dull moment in this 480-page whodunit, but readers will be thankful not to be physically aboard for the grueling journey ... A trio of women (the captain’s wife, daughter and mistress) are also sleuthing, adding a refreshingly feminine twist to this Sherlock Holmes-styled mystery. Turton’s characterizations dovetail nicely with his careful, clever plotting. Meanwhile, he uses history to his advantage, adding dollops of commentary on women’s rights, class privilege and capitalism that lend the novel a contemporary vibe ... History and mystery lovers alike will delight in the heart-racing escapades.
... breaks barriers in terms of location, character development, point of view, and much-needed humour mixed in throughout this dark and twisted mystery ... enough twists and turns throughout each chapter of the novel that proves to keep the reader interested until the very end. Like authors such as Stephen King and Agatha Christie, Turton is able to convince readers of many characters’ innocence, even if they may not be innocent at all ... Turton is able to continuously push the suspicion from one character to another throughout the novel, ultimately causing the reader much difficulty in finding a reliable narrator. With some comedic aspects sprinkled in with the action and mystery, Turton continuously keeps readers’ attention and wondering who, exactly, is the cause of this chaos ... proves to be a novel all kinds of readers will enjoy. There are important social themes such as feminism and tyranny present throughout the text including fierce women characters like Sara and her daughter Lia who push for female equality throughout ... While many of the characters are well developed, witty, and even a little untrustworthy, there is still room for some of the characters to be developed even more by the end of the novel. Sammy and Arent’s story is only briefly explained in the text and it would have been helpful to understand just how deep their friendship goes ... a thrilling take of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and just how far some people will go to protect the innocent. Avid mystery readers and new mystery readers alike will find something they like about this novel, whether it be the relationships characters form between themselves or the constant twists and turns that entice them to continue turning the pages.