Friday, 29 July 2016

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home

Cal McGill is one of those sleuths that does his detecting frequently on the wrong side of the law. The story starts off with Cal falling foul of the police when he is caught on camera trespassing in the garden of the Minister for the Environment. He isn’t a burglar, but an environmentalist, and he’s there to leave a small flowering plant as a call to take environmental issues more seriously. He comes up against the brusque, womanising DI Ryan, who, with his eye on promotion, is keen to make an example of Cal.

Cal runs a business mapping sea currents in an attempt to plot where flotsam and jetsam has gone into the water. Usually it is pollution he is tracking, but in this book he is asked by Ryan’s plain-Jane Sergeant, Helen Jamieson, to determine the possible origin of a couple of trainers, complete with feet. Helen has a score to settle with Ryan and she and Cal make unlikely allies.

But woven into this mystery is the story of Basanti, who has run away from the sex trafficking ring that has taken her from her home in India. Cal has a load of baggage, with a failed marriage, and the tragic history of his grandfather lost at sea at twenty-one during the Second World War. Both story threads will pull these characters towards the wild, west coast of Scotland.

So there is a lot going on here with the crims closing in, atmospheric Scottish island settings, and suspicious locals. Both Cal and Helen are terrific characters, Cal with his maverick, loner tendencies, and Helen who is much smarter than her colleagues give her credit for. I ploughed through this book in no time and am keen to read more from Douglas-Home. Readers who have enjoyed Peter May’s Lewis trilogy will love the Sea Detective series.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Sea Detective

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