About The Book
An impossible murder
A remarkable detective duo
A demon who may or may not exist
It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia.
But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?
With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I was looking forward to reading this book after thoroughly enjoying The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Even though it is completely different with the storyline and setting it was similar with its depth of character and plot. You couldn’t read either of these books quickly. It is probably the longest I’ve taken to read a book all year.
I was lucky enough to read a sampler a few months ago, which ended on a sinister note so I knew that this was a novel that unsettle me. The fear of a ship under a threat from a devil was extremely convincing. All of the characters reacted in a different way and it didn’t take long for simmering resentments to boil over into an increasingly dangerous situation.
It wasn’t just the threat from the devil that left me uneasy. The leper, who should have been dead, the attitudes to the women on board the ship and the animosity between the sailors and rest of the passengers left me in no doubt about how volatile the situation was. And when the storm hit and lives became endangered this feeling increased. I had no idea who I could trust, who could have been possessed and no idea which way the storyline would end.
A lot felt believable. In particular the way in which women were regarded. The marriages they were forced into and the way in which they were controlled by the families. I wasn’t quite sure that they would have been as strong willed and forward thinking as they were portrayed but it did work well in the storyline. The superstitions were believable and I imagine that many sailors in modern day have similar views.
I read this book digitally, I would love to read it again as a print copy. From what I have seen it is stunning, it would probably be a more enjoyable read and it has the added bonus of maps.