Some modern maritime hijinks with ‘The Sea Detective’.

I am tired today because I was up late – very late – last night finishing off reading The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home. What a fantastic book!

I saw the blurb on Amazon a few weeks ago, and it was upon discovering that the book is about ‘a part-time PhD oceanography student with a macabre interest in floating corpses’ that I really got hooked. Science and intrigue? Geologist writer is happy.

The book totally lived up to what I expected from the blurb, and beyond. It’s quite complex as there are about three parallel stories running throughout the book, but it was all wonderfully paced (although I sort of feel the ending wrapped up rather too quickly… but perhaps it’s my own frustrations with word counts coming out there!) and it kept my mind engaged. The characterisation was brilliant, especially the uncomfortably-realistic conversations between Cal and his estranged wife! And mega-props for creating my favourite character ever – Detective Jamieson, the ultimate anti-Sue. Her internal monologues while talking to her boss (a misogynistic policeman who could easily be a supporting character in Irvine Welsh’s Filth) are very entertaining and I found myself cheering adamantly for her the entire way.

The fact that the main character, Cal, is an oceanography student makes the whole book quite relatable, and I enjoyed the mentions of things I have been studying the past semesters – especially the Dryas Octopetela. And finally, the whole premise of solving crimes by using ocean current simulations has intrigued me beyond the scope of the book – I’ve actually half a mind to go check out if there’s any research being done into stuff like this, as I’ve never thought about it in a human context before!

I think this is a book that most of my sciencey friends would enjoy (especially those starting the Oceanography module with me next Feb!). And it’s just a good book in general for anyone wanting a fast-paced thriller, with the added benefit that they will find out a few wee sciencey nuggets along the way.

Finally, the book hit a bit of a personal note with the family history thing, and weirdly I found myself wanting to go back to both Edinburgh and the Outer Hebrides. It’s not often people write so eloquently about places I know, so, dear author, I congratulate you.