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The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Published : October 1st 2020

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing

Format : Kindle, Audio, Hardback, Paperback

Genre : Historical Fiction


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.

My Review

Firstly thank you so much @bloomsburyPublishing for sending me this absolutely stunning second book by the hugely talented Stuart Turton

Ok so on to my review. I had huge expectations for this one, Stuarts first book The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle is still one of my favourite mystery reads out there.

So this second historical novel did not disappoint. Set in the 17th century. Pipps and Arent are stranded on the beach, being pelted with stones and rocks in amongst the throng of people off to board a ship bound to Amsterdam. Pipps is accused of crimes by the governor of Batavia and Arent is there as always to guard and protect him.

The two have been working side by side for sometime as detective and bodyguard and such is their relationship that Arent has sworn to stay by his side not believing the unknown charges against him.

Whilst they are slowly making their way to their ship The Saardam, a leper who has had his tongue cut out, stands up on the rock face and declares the voyage to be doomed and cursed and that the devil under the name of Old Tom will come and reek havoc, with that he burst into flames and dies.

This sets everyones suspicions up and panic slowly works its way through the hoard of people waiting to board.

Writing it off as nonsense the governor insists everyone continues as normal and when they are all set inside their cabins things seem to settle down, Pipps is taken to the base of the ship to sit and wait inside his cell whilst Aren't has a cabin up above.

The ship is carrying some mysterious cargo and as chaos inevitably starts to turn and the bodycount rises from unexplained deaths Arent, with the help of the imprisoned Pipps, Sara, the governors tormented wife and her genius daughter Lia al set out to find out what is exactly behind Old Tom, if he is as real as he seems and how it is that they all seem connected in one way or another.

Lieutenant Arent's chances of succeeding don't look great as he is stuck on a doomed vessel in the middle of a treacherous ocean, surrounded by the worst kind of sinners who are ambitious, evil men, and all the while the devil is whispering in the dark bargaining for souls...

Why I Loved It

This was another brilliant whodunnit. Another amazing Russian doll read that slowly but surely lures you in and has you guessing at every opportunity.

I loved how there was the spine chilling feel about this one, never really sure wether Old Tom was actually real or a masterful plan invented by one of the passengers set for their own gains.

The end had such a brilliant twist that I just didn't see it coming. All characters were so cleverly intwined that as you try to piece together what is going on your still knocked sideways with another clue you just didn't guess.

Its fair to say that Stuart Turton is one of those authors for me that I will automatically reach for hits books every time without question and share with all friends as they are just far to good to not be read.



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Meet the author

Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who has previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel. He is the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He lives in London with his wife.

Connect with Stuart



Books by this author

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle

Claire's Similar reads

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker ( click HERE for review )

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton ( click HERE for review )

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?

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