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.
The Devil and the Dark Water lies between genres — it is a mystery with an occult MacGuffin, a demonic symbol that bodes ill for a group of travelers aboard a United East India Company galleon ... The Devil and the Dark Water like Turton’s first novel, The 7½ Deaths of Eleanor Hardcastle is compulsively readable, slightly over the top and more interested in the mysteries of character and mise-en-scène than the rigors of plot. The horror elements are entertaining rather than terrifying, perfect for readers who like a little occult with their mystery but dare not get entangled in anything too scary. While there were times when I felt the novel unfolded a bit too slowly — it is 463 pages, and could easily have been shorter — Pipps and Hayes are such charming company that I was happy to travel with them for the extended journey.