Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Malice of Waves by Mark Douglas-Home

First Line: A few hours: wasn't that what Dr. Lipman said?

It's been five years since fourteen-year-old Max Wheeler disappeared, and his grief-stricken father is still searching for the truth. That's why Cal McGill is in the small community of Priest's Island-- he's come to see if his knowledge of the ocean and its currents can bring new clues to light.

Wheeler is not the only one reeling from his son's death. The small island community has also been torn apart by the tragedy, and by the whispers that insinuate that at least one of the villagers has to know what happened to the boy. With emotions running high, it's up to Cal to find the truth.

I love this series. Unless lightning strikes twice, it will be my "find of 2016. Although I didn't find The Malice of Waves to be quite as mesmerizing as the first two books, it's still an excellent read and not to be missed.  

Douglas-Home changes it up a bit for this third book, and it's all to do with the villagers on Priest's Island. The settings for the author's books are wonderful. You can hear and watch the sea birds wheeling in the sky overhead. You can smell the salt air and be hypnotized by the crashing of the waves. The locations come to life, but they are fictional, and I like Douglas-Home's reasons for making them so: "My reason for inventing places is to avoid imposing a fictional plot on an island community that has a rich and interesting history of its own."  Fictional or not, the landscape is breathtaking and an important part of the books

While Cal's work with the tides does help to prove (or disprove) various theories as to what happened to the young boy's body, once again there is an environmental element to the story in the character of Pinkie Wise, a man who is obsessed with collecting rare birds' eggs. Pinkie has a small but pivotal role in The Malice of Waves. One of my favorite characters, Detective Sergeant Helen Jamieson, makes her second appearance in the series, and it was a welcome one. I hope to see more of this intelligent, fierce young woman. Both Helen and Cal are unconventional, complex characters-- one of the reasons why I like these books so much.

A strong theme throughout the book is how grief affects different people, and how it can rip families apart. I think I was so strongly opposed to the elder Wheeler's behavior that I completely forgot to keep track of the clues planted all along the way as to the killer's identity. I noticed them, but the lure of the story was too strong for me to put them all together. (Hopefully I won't have to turn in my amateur sleuth badge.)

If you love strong characters teamed with engrossing mysteries and evocative settings, Mark Douglas-Home's the Sea Detective novels are perfect for you.  They are best read in order, so please begin with The Sea Detective-- one of my Best Reads of 2016.      

The Malice of Waves by Mark Douglas-Home
ISBN: 9780718182762
Michael Joseph © 2016
Paperback, 290 pages

Amateur Sleuth, #3 Sea Detective mystery
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from The Book Depository   



  1. This sounds good. The plot description for this one appeals more to me than that of the first book, but I can get the first book from the library, so it's going on my list of books to check out.

  2. I know what you mean, Cathy. This is a really excellent series. And I like the realistic way that Cal gets drawn into different mysteries. Very glad you liked this as much as you did.

    1. Now I'm really looking forward to book number four!

  3. Was hoping to get this book while in Scotland a couple of weeks ago but it wasn't released yet. I guess I'll head on over to Book Depository for a copy. I love this series too!

    1. Book Depository comes in handy, doesn't it? (And I have to admit that I'm a tad envious that you were in Scotland!)

  4. Oh, this post reminds me to read book two, which is on my TBR stack(s). So glad that the characters continue to be interesting and the plot good.

    This is already on my TBR list, will push it up.


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