Best Books of 2012: Blog 5 of 12

One book last year out-performed all expectations and it is the fifth of my top twelve reads of the year. In alphabetical order of authors, I am posting the details of all twelve every day over twelve days. Please comment and offer your best reads of the year.

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home came out in 2011 and is a wonderful debut novel, set in Scotland today, which makes one glad to learn it will not be his only one. A new novel will appear in April this year and I have it on pre-order.

From the opening sequences, the separate strands of the story are skilfully revealed; strands that go on to form a cat’s cradle of complexity where not a single word is unimportant. Indeed, one spoken word that recurs towards the climax of the novel is the hook around which the plot swings towards its dramatic and satisfying conclusion. The protagonist, who carries all the emotional baggage of a well-wrought hero, is Cal McGill, a part-time PhD oceanography student with a macabre interest in bits of bodies floating in the sea. His knowledge of ocean currents and the arrival of severed feet on various Scottish beaches not only draws him into an investigation of global human trafficking but unwinds and explains some of his own personal family mystery. As well as being a real work of art in this genre, this was one of these ‘so gripping’ books that are hard to put down until the final page. I have had to be so careful not to do a spoiler review and when you recommend this to friends, do be careful not to say too much beyond, “You must read this!” Verdict 9.5 out of 10

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