Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Sea Detective: Mark Douglas-Home

I included a small mini-review of The Sea Detective in my summary post for my June reading. Today I want to expand on that more.

This debut novel by a Scottish author is set primarily in Edinburgh. Three separate plots are intertwined throughout the book: a "detective" studies ocean currents and tracks the objects deposited by them; a female Detective Constable loves her job but has difficulty being taken seriously; an Indian girl who has been sold into prostitution endeavors to discover a friend's fate.

The story is complex but I never got lost or bored. Sometimes it is challenging to keep up with a story that moves from character to character. Possibly the threads in this plot hold together successfully because they do interconnect and the reader knows that. Each of the main characters has their own agendas, yet they all come together in the end. This is not a story with a saccharine, happy ending but there is a resolution, which makes sense and is plausible.

The characters were all believable. The story begins with Basanti and Preeti, two young girls from India, who are sold into prostitution to support their families. They travel by plane and ship to Scotland; there they are separated. Basanti is determined to find out what happened to her friend Preeti. Cal McGill is studying oceanography, and works in a network with others who are interested in tracking ocean currents and the debris that is carried around in the ocean. He is a environmental activist and is searching for the truth about his grandfather's past. DC Helen Jamison is an overweight policewoman who does her job very well but is not taken seriously by the Detective Inspector she is working with. She longs to be working in a situation where she will be appreciated.

This story has a great setting, the coast of Scotland, and some interesting historical facts about the area and the people. But primarily the strength of the novel is the excellent plotting and use of characters we are interested in.

This is my second book for the Read Scotland challenge, hosted by Peggy at Peggy Ann's Post. I am grateful that my husband joined in on that challenge also, and purchased this book, so that I could read it also.

-----------------------------

Publisher: Sandstone Press, 2011
Length:    280 pages
Format:    trade paperback
Series      Cal McGill, Sea Detective
Setting:    Scotland
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    Borrowed from my husband.

16 comments:

  1. TracyK: It sounds interesting. It has been quite awhile since I read a book set in Scotland. It seems I have been spending more time in North America recently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, Reading and reviewing books from both North America and European countries has broadened my knowledge of geography, a subject which I am very poor in. I really need to read more about African countries, I can't place any of them.

      Delete
  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Tracy! Has hubby read it yet and did he like it? The second book in this series is enroute to me from Hawaii via Paperbackswap!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peggy, my husband has not read it yet. I hope he likes it. I am looking forward to the 2nd book also. I just read two good reviews of that one.

      Delete
  3. Tracy - I'm glad you enjoyed that one. I agree with you that the story threads are complex, but I think Douglas-Home ties it all together effectively. And I liked both of the main threads, too. Couldn't agree more about the characters, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, I like complex plots, and I think the characters are great. And for the most part, the author kept me guessing what would happen next.

      Delete
  4. Tracy - another skim as I have a copy on order. You cracked my resolve!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, this one is definitely worth breaking the embargo. I have been trying to cut back on buying also, and then I broke down and bought a few books lately. It is very hard to stop buying books.

      Delete
  5. I think I said when you mentioned this before - definitely on my list. Looking forward to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moira, I hope you enjoy it and I am looking forward to your review.

      Delete
  6. I should be able to get this one from the library, I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katrina, you will be able to tell us how authentic the setting and characters are.

      Delete
  7. Well, I did like this book, more the segments about the protagonist's investigation into what happened to his grandfather during WWII. As his quest takes him to Scottish islands, I found myself wondering about life there for the inhabitants, having to deal with extreme cold without modern heating systems and strong windows, and how isolation affected them.

    I have the next book, but haven't yet read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, the parts about the Scottish Islands and the families that lived there was very interesting. I will wait a while to read the next book but I am looking forward to it.

      Delete
  8. Tracy, I'm intrigued by the Indian element in the novel though the plot, young girls forced into prostitution, is actually known to happen and I have read about it in the media. I remember, many years ago a leading Indian newspaper ran a very telling public service ad campaign about how poor women were "sold" for half the price of a buffalo. I believe things have improved though crimes against women are on the rise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Prashant, I had wondered if you knew more about that topic. The background of that part of the plot is not explored in depth in the book, but I was interested in knowing more. And that is what I like about books like this. I had the impression that the situation was improving, also.

      Delete