Cal McGill, the believable hero of Mark Douglas-Home’s debut novel, The Sea Detective, is an oceanographer who uses his unusual knowledge of ocean currents and wind speeds to track oil spills. This makes for an interesting and different read. His unique knowledge is used in detail throughout the novel to solve various mysteries that arise, such as severed feet washed ashore across Scotland’s beaches, the death of Cal McGill’s grandfather at sea, and Basanti’s quest to find her friend after they are sold into the sex trade.

The novel opens in Bengal, where we discover Basanti’s story, before she and the plot, move to Scotland where the remainder of the novel is set. Cal’s quest to solve the mystery of his grandfather’s death at sea drives the novel, but other strands of different stories are picked up along the way.

…all the elements slowly combining to create a diverse and multi-layered story.

At first the narrative can seem disjointed, perhaps due to chapters filled with various individual stories and points of view from the newly-introduced characters. However, this soon becomes a fluidic read, with all the elements slowly combining to create a diverse and multi-layered story.

Cal’s plausibility and contemporary edge make him a likeable and engaging protagonist. Combined with the intricate and fascinating storyline, employed with originality and creativity, this makes for a highly successful debut novel from Mark Douglas-Home.

The Sea Detective is published by Sandstone Press RRP: £17.99

4½ Stars 

Image courtesy of Mark Douglas-Home


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