The Devil and the Dark Water
January 12, 2023 9:09 AM - Subscribe

A murder on the high seas. 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 to Amsterdam to be executed 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.

"Compulsively readable ... ​Pipps and Hayes are such charming company that I was happy to travel with them for the extended journey."
New York Times

"Wildly inventive, Turton's defies definition as either historical or a crime novel, but provides all the pleasures of both genres and more."
The Times

"[Turton] posed knotty challenges for readers, has a colourful tale to tell and does so in highly entertaining fashion... A devilish saga that never runs out of cutthroat conspiracies."
Kirkus Reviews

[Praise and blurb from DHH Literary Agency]
posted by quatsch (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had a rough time with this one, which surprised me because it's very in my wheelhouse! Do not go in expecting characters that make any sense for their time period, or whose out-of-timeness has any effect on the mystery, clues, plot in general, etc. Coming at this from the perspective of a person who reads a lot more horror than any other genre, I really didn't see horror in this horror mystery. I am still thinking about this book after its ending, though, so would welcome discussion from others who've read it!

If you'd like to know more about the harrowing shipwreck that inspired this, I highly recommend Batavia's Graveyard by Mike Dash. Uhhhh, maybe read the Turton book first if you're inclined, because the historical detail that's fleshed out in Dash's book will (if you're me) make you really annoyed by the lack of same in Devil and the Dark Water.
posted by quatsch at 9:35 AM on January 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I read this a while back and thought it was awful even though the premise made it sound like a book written for a target demographic of me. I quite enjoyed The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle but this felt like a chaotic mess that was somehow also very boring.
posted by synecdoche at 5:36 PM on January 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

I picked this up after reading the author's first book. This was definitely more straightforward, which slightly disappointed me, but wasn't entirely unexpected. I did like it (not nearly as much as Evelyn) right up to the very end. The ending, not the reveal but the wrap up, felt forced and almost ruined the rest of the book for me.

I agree, it didn't seem like a horror at all. Unless by horror they meant it's a horrible time to be anyone but a wealthy dude colonizing the world? Maybe some occasional spookiness, but it's definitely more mystery.

I had no idea this related to anything real in history, so I appreciate the heads up!
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:42 PM on January 12, 2023

Oh wow, this is the first time I've ever seen something I worked on show up on Metafilter.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:43 PM on January 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Like a lot of people, I read this after really enjoying The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and didn't enjoy it as much as that excellent book. But I did enjoy it.

The menacing atmosphere of the murders on the boat really worked for me. It felt almost gothic. And the mystery felt honest (I had a hunch fairly early on that paid off). The wrap-up was weak, but endings are hard. B+
posted by Lorc at 12:04 PM on January 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

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