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The Sea Detective (Cal McGill, Sea Detective #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  783 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Cal McGill, a part-time PhD oceanography student with a macabre interest in floating corpses, comes across a young woman in dirty clothes with scabs and cracked lips. She explains how her friend died three years ago and was fished out of the sea. This isn't the only unexplained death haunting McGill however.
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published December 31st 2011 by Sandstone Press Ltd (first published May 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Susan Johnson
Sep 03, 2016 Susan Johnson rated it really liked it
This is an absolutely riveting mystery set in Scotland. A young Oceanography student, Cal McGill, runs a little business, Flotsam and Jetsam Investigations. He uses his knowledge of the ocean's tides to investigate unusual items turning up on beaches and in the sea. He certainly needs all that for what happens in this book.

He investigates the death of his grandfather on an Island owned trawler during WWII. He looks into severed feet washing up on beaches all over Scotland. And there's the matt
Lexie Conyngham
Oct 24, 2013 Lexie Conyngham rated it liked it
Well, if I hadn't been stuck on a long train journey with no other book, I'd have put this down by the end of chapter two. No one involved with the production of the book seems to have any idea what a comma is for, and question marks also appear in some rather odd places. The use of figures as opposed to names of numbers was inconsistent and irritating. I was irked, too, by a point in his acknowledgements where he seems to imply that almost all research can be done through journalism and it's a ...more
Sep 01, 2016 Lynn rated it it was amazing
I recently read a review of this book from a blog site that I follow and respect. On the site, this book earned one of the best reads for 2016 and these best reads are not given out easily. I found that I enjoyed the book immensely. It is now one of my best crime fiction reads for 2016.

Cal McGill is a part time PHD oceanography student who studies the ocean with its currents to determine when something washes up on shore where it probably entered the ocean originally. He has develop a reputation
Jan 18, 2016 Shaun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for an original, intriguing and utterly compelling book to read then you've found it with The Sea Detective. When I received this book and read the press release, I became very excited because when you read over one hundred crime fiction stories every year, you are constantly on the lookout for something that is different from everything else out there. It's also important to say that The Sea Detective goes beyond just being a simple crime story as it is also a thriller ...more
Sid Nuncius
Nov 16, 2015 Sid Nuncius rated it liked it
I thought this was a very good idea which was reasonably well done. I would like to have given this four stars because there's promise here, but it did have some pretty serious flaws and in the end I couldn't, I'm afraid.

This is a crime novel with both police and private detective elements. Cal McGill is a rather geeky (but apparently rather sexy) marine expert who can track beached objects back to their source at sea. He is slightly clumsily introduced, as is the police officer Helen Jamieson,
3.5 stars

Are chairs smaller in Scotland? Discuss.......

In an effort to address the tower of books taking over the spare room, I recently decided that every 5th read would be a random pick from the pile. Here goes.

Cal McGill is an oceanography PhD student living in a half finished condo building in Edinburgh. He currently has a few things on his plate: tracking the alarming number of severed feet that are popping up in waters around Scotland's coast, solving the mystery surrounding his grandfath
Mike Sumner
Jan 11, 2016 Mike Sumner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once in a while a book like The Sea Detective comes along that is just so different. The genre of crime fiction is bursting at the seams and it must be very difficult to think of something new to bring to it. Well, for me this is it. This is one of the most unique crime novels I have read in a long time.

"The Sea Detective", first novel in the series featuring Cal McGill, an Edinburgh-based expert oceanographer and marine tracker, courtesy of Flotsam and Jetsam Investigations, is certainly differ
Jul 29, 2014 GlenK rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This contemporary Scotland-set mystery novel is complex and rich storytelling. In it's wide-ranging plot, the classic themes of loss, the quest for truth, and the desire for revenge are driving forces. There are three main characters: all are damaged in one way or another but in the end all display great strength. Cal McGill, the titular "Sea Detective", is a remote person who studies ocean currents mostly in hopes of solving the where and how of his grandfather's death. For compelling but ...more
Snoozie Suzie
May 04, 2013 Snoozie Suzie rated it it was amazing
The two stories twist together superbly, and the characters in the book complement each other and fit the needs of the book so well. The descriptions are so well written I could really imagine the people on the island or the boat or wherever they were at that time. A thoroughly enjoyable read: I recommend it.
There was enough going on here for two books. Unputdownable.
Oct 10, 2016 Sallie rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2012 David rated it really liked it
“The Sea Detective” is made up of several threads. We are first introduced to teenage Indian girls Preeti and Basanti, sold by their families into a life of prostitution. They are clearly taken far from home, though the reader is not immediately made aware just how far. A second thread revolves around Cal McGill, a postgraduate student with an interest in mapping ocean currents, who also spends time planting rare wild flowers in the gardens of prominent politicians to draw attention to the ...more
Cathy Cole
Mar 24, 2016 Cathy Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Within the space of a week, two of my most trusted sources for book recommendations raved about Mark Douglas-Home's The Sea Detective. When I looked it up online and read the synopsis, I immediately ordered a copy. (Actually I ordered it and the second book in the series because I trusted those recommendations so much.) My friends did not steer me wrong. Now I'm joining my voice with theirs to say that if you enjoy well-written crime fiction with an unusual focus and quirky characters, you need ...more
Caryl Williams
Apr 24, 2016 Caryl Williams rated it it was amazing
The Mark Douglas - Home series was recommended to me by a friend and for some odd reason I read the second book first and thoroughly enjoyed it as I did this one.

The main character, Cal Mcgill, is a slightly geeky, young oceanographer/ environmentalist based in Edinburgh - a part time PHD oceanography student who tracks back whatever the sea throws up onto beaches - in this case along the islands off the coastline of Western Scotland using his knowledge of sea currents, wind direction and ship
Lari Don
Aug 21, 2012 Lari Don rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
I bought this book with a slight wince. It’s from a small publisher and a new writer, so I really bought it out of curiosity and a sense of duty, because it’s Scottish and it’s crime and I like both those things.
But actually it was considerably BETTER than most of the greatly heralded Scandinavian crime books I’ve stumbled through recently (or thrown aside in frustration.)
The Sea Detective is about Cal McGill, a student of tides and currents, of how objects float and move round the coasts, wit
P.D.R. Lindsay
Oh full marks, Mr Douglas-Home! A crime series which is new, original even, and on the literary side of the genre. It's a satisfying read and avoids many of the clichés common to crime novels. It's another crime series from Scotland which adds considerably to the mana of the Scottish crime genre.

Cal McGill is a PhD student in his late twenties. His doctorate is oceanography, specifically making a computer programme which will track the flotsam and jetsam of the North Atlantic. This fits nicely w
Aug 23, 2014 Jim rated it liked it
Mark Douglas Hume has created a thriller with a marked degree of originality. The idea of an oceanographer being involved in crime investigation makes for a different tack on this type of novel. Sound characters, especially the oddball mixture Cal McGill, the sea detective, and Helen Jamieson, the honest copper struggling with her self-esteem, plus varied themes, including the horror that is sex trafficking and the undying power of family ties, provide the novel with a fine constitution. I can ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this in a beautiful bookshop in Edinburgh's Grassmarket - the sort of shop that makes you want to buy even though it's the third day and you've already bought twenty five books. Enticing title and vividly different cover.

An enviably excellent start to this - beginning gently enticing then delivering an unexpectedly breathtaking and painful low-belly punch, several times over. Cal McGill is a brand new type of character in an original set of circumstances and the Indian girls unexpected
Dec 01, 2015 Paromjit rated it it was amazing
This debut thriller focuses on Cal McGill, an oceanographer doing a PhD on ocean currents. A loner, he also engages in mildly illegal activities for the good of the world! He is obsessed with finding out the truth about what happened to his grandfather.

The police ask for his help over the discovery of severed feet on the coast, and he finds himself involved with the grim sex trade when a young indian girl asks him to help find out what happened to her friend. Aided by DC Helen Jamieson, the thr
May 23, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it
I've been looking forward to this book and it did not disappoint me! There are three story threads and they intersect beautifully. I especially enjoyed the personal family mystery Cal was working through. The storyline about the two young girls brought the spotlight to the sex trafficking trade and was quite shocking and very well woven into the tale. I found myself quite attached to Basanti. Then there is the excellent police procedural line concerning the severed feet and the difficult working ...more
Sharon Loveday
Apr 25, 2016 Sharon Loveday rated it it was amazing
One of the most unusual and well-written books I have ever read. It deals with a very dark subject but the 'sea detective' is such a good character and, as he begins to solve the mystery, you like him more and more. There is humour as the female police officer lets us 'know' her thoughts as she deals with her 'superior' officer.
Beatrice Rogers
An interesting way to highlight one of the foulest problems of our time but he manages to make the book more than readable. You want to know what next. A fascinating new detective
Sam Jones
Jan 17, 2016 Sam Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book. It wasn't fast paced but the story line is intriguing and the characters are well fleshed out - just enough flaws and quirks to make them relatable and keep you interested.
Jan 04, 2016 Helen rated it it was amazing
Fast paced, complex plot but always interesting. Not the usual police procedural. A gripping read which I very much enjoyed. I just hope the sequel is as good as this one.
Apr 24, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The different story lines were cleverly woven together although very occasionally the characters were a little exaggerated, hence 4 stars instead of 5. Well worth a read!
Jocelyn (foxonbooks)
Clever crime stuffed with great characters and an interesting twist or two.
Nov 07, 2016 Ginnz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.
The book writing is flawed at times (an injury that almost cripples the main character but only a chapter or two later is never mentioned again or the rather nasty way he constantly describes a larger female detective which is not necessary) but the essence of the story is not.
Some of the characterizations are painful, but I see some elegance there too.
I loved the many strands that felt like the occurred naturally in the story being brought together. If felt easy and I read 2
Oct 26, 2016 Seafriend rated it it was amazing
Granted that I've got a soft spot for oceanography and maritime history, I just loved reading this book. Every page was a delight. The character development of the protagonist was spot on. I adored Helen and no, I saw nothing wrong with references to her weight.
I felt that Helen's character was developed in a way that sought to challenge the reader to think twice before deciding on a person's mental acuity and stellar character based on their dress size. She exuded enhanced intellect, a wonderf
Tom Jenckes
Oct 25, 2016 Tom Jenckes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spectacular! The author skillfully develops his characters: Cal McGill is amazing, Helen Jamison is intriguing, Rosy, the reporter is a true journalist. The heroine, Basanti, is so powerful. They are woven into an amazing plot which pulls you along. One of my favorites!
Oct 30, 2016 Pip rated it liked it
Engaging thriller, nice pace. Murder mystery. The main character/ investigator was an expert in oceans which was a nice twist on the usual detective narrative.
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Mark Douglas-Home is a newspaper editor turned author. The Sea Detective, his first novel, introduced a new kind of investigator to crime fiction - the oceanographer Cal McGill who tracks floating objects, including dead bodies, at sea. It received critical praise, becoming a Sunday Times 'Crime Book of the Month' in the UK. The sequel, The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea, was described as 'simply ...more
More about Mark Douglas-Home...

Other Books in the Series

Cal McGill, Sea Detective (3 books)
  • The Woman Who Walked Into the Sea (Cal McGill, Sea Detective, #2)
  • The Malice of Waves (Cal McGill, Sea Detective, #3)

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