cover image The Devil and the Dark Water

The Devil and the Dark Water

Stuart Turton. Sourcebooks Landmark, $26.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-7282-0602-8

Set in 1634, this outstanding whodunit from Turton (The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle) opens in Batavia, where celebrated investigator Samuel Pipps, who was working in the Dutch East Indies until his arrest for an unknown reason, is about to be transported to Amsterdam aboard the Saardam, along with his longtime sidekick, Arent Hayes. From the dock, a bloody man issues a dire warning to the Saardam’s crew and passengers. As the grim figure, who appears to have leprosy, prophesies that the ship won’t reach its destination, his clothing bursts into flame. Hayes and another passenger, the governor-general’s wife, rush to help the dying man, only to find that his tongue had been cut out, making any speech impossible. The puzzles only continue once the vessel sets sail, including a locked-room murder, the reappearance of the dead leper, and a ghost ship dogging the Saardam. As Turton ratchets up the tension en route to the brilliant resolution of the plot, he keeps readers in doubt as to whether a rational explanation is possible. Fans of impossible crime fiction won’t want to miss this one. Agent: Harry Illingworth, DHH Literary Agency. (Oct.)