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The Sea Detective
Mark Douglas-Home
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The Sea Detective (Cal McGill, Sea Detective #1)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  143 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Unknown Binding, 426 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Sandstone Press Ltd (first published May 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 233)
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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 diffe...more
Lexie Conyngham
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
Snoozie Suzie
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.
Rob Kitchin
The Sea Detective is a hugely enjoyable read, told in an engaging and compelling voice. An awful lot happens in its 280 pages, with its three main intersecting plot lines, but at no point does the story feel overcomplicated or underdeveloped or overly contrived. Packing so much in, in terms of historical, social and scientific contextualisation and the back stories of the various characters, whilst keep the story front and centre without the text becoming bloated or preachy is a remarkable feat....more
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 j...more
Mandy Haggith
This review was published in Northwords Now:
If you like your crime novels full of car chases, shoot outs and moody police veterans, this book isn’t for you. The detective in question isn’t in the police force; Cal McGill is a PhD student studying oceanography. This may sound like an inauspicious starting point, but when it comes to bodies, or parts of bodies, washed up on beaches, it’s an area of expertise that comes in very handy.

From his top-floor flat in Leith, Cal McGill solves sea crimes...more
An original, fast-paced, rather quirky mystery. The added benefit is that it is largely set near where I live, and the scientific advice was given by someone I know. Physical oceanographers everywhere will want to read this for a new "applied" perspective on their work.

What I wanted to know was, did Cal ever finish his PhD or was he too busy solving crimes? Where was his advisor?!

My only complaint was that the female characters, aside from the two Indian girls, were all drawn as over-sexed, hyp...more
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...more
“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 threa...more
Lari Don
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...more
A detective story which is quite unusual as the main character is an Oceanologist with a particular interest in tracking ocean debris. There are three separate threads to the story and they give an opportunity to bring in a troubled personal life (are there any happy fictional detectives?) and a tie-in to a woman police detective who'd like to get her own back on her chauvinistic boss. The story hangs together well and is quite an entertaining read.
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
Vicki Morris
This book was exceptional! The main plot and three subplots kept me rapidly turning pages and my interest at its peak. The oceanography and references to the currents, flow, wind, etc. was just enough to be an addition and not a distraction to the overall story. Throw in the story about his grandfather and the book became an emotional rollercoaster.

The sex trade is often current news, however, the brutal characterization of the young women as they were moved from Mumbai to Scotland made it feel...more
Jill Burkinshaw
I really enjoyed reading this book. Its main theme is the science of the oceans and has 2 different stories running in tandem so plenty to keep the reader turning pages. It didn't quite have the suspense I enjoy and found some parts a bit monotonous but despite that it was still enjoyable and I have downloaded 'The woman who walked into the sea' which is the next in the series
Áine Quinn
I really enjoyed this. I found Cal McGill a really interesting protagonist, and while I was a little concerned about Jamieson's portrayal in the beginning, she really grew on me. I liked the three different mysteries, particularly the one of Cal's grandfather. Well worth a read, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book.
Suzie Grogan
This is an interesting new take on the maverick detective - offering possibilities to those of us who love crime fiction but struggle to find anything new and original.

Really well constructed with different plot lines melding well together and all working to build a picture of oceanographer/ecologist Cal McGill, a geeky Phd student who can solve mysteries (from severed feet floating ashore along the coastline of Scotland, to the horrors of child trafficking)by tracking tidal drift and ocean cur...more
New author, interesting premise.

Had humor, danger, excitement, and serious themes.

Main characters were interesting.

I want to find out what happens next.


It was okay - that about sums this up and that's sad because the subject matter was facinating, and the idea original. I so wanted the characters to come alive form the page but they just didn't. The whole thing was flat and quite frankly bitty. It jumped hither and thither like the writer couldn't make upi his mind what story he was telling, the many strands came together clumsily and the ending I found unatisfactory. In fact it just stopped.

I wanted so much more meat on the bones of this story...more
Andy Bryant
Quite enjoyed that. The two narrative strands are woven together well, and of the two it's the story of the protagonist's grandfather that was the most interesting and possibly deserving of more of the narrative than it got. The writing style is quite sparse which I like, and all characters came across as well thought out and genuine, not stereotypes. Most importantly the protagonist is an intriguing character, and by never revealing everything he's thinking or his motives, the reader has to wor...more
Managed to read the 2 Sea Detective books out of order. This one is a very different book to the second, both incredibley strong but in different ways.

The main strength of this one is the characterisation, and just how different the plot is. A point not to be under estimated in a highly over-done genre typically. Very unique offering overall, though I did feel Cal's Oceanographer skills were a bit marginalised. Also wish some of the characters had been taken over to the second book, namely the p...more
I took a risk on this one. Only reviewed by Scottish papers, I have to say I was awake to 2am to finish it.
Andrew Williams

This is a great detective debut. I am not much of a consumer of detective fiction but I like this story because it was quirky, fresh and introduced me to some interesting characters and landscapes. In particular, I loved the female detective, who is a real original. I also appreciated the effortless way the author weaved parallel narratives of past and present together. The scenes on the west coast of Scotland were particularly good. A great read for anyone interested in contemporary Scotland an...more
I really liked this book, a first novel from an experienced writer. The characters are clearly drawn and the main and supporting protagonists are somehow endearing in kind of weird way. Cal McGill is sort of a genius at tracking sea currents and how the currents combine to send various things from one place to another. He is caught up in several mysteries in which this skill comes in handy, not least of which is the search for the truth about his grandfather's death.

I hope Douglas-Home writes so...more
Fiona Nevada
Loved the scenery and the unusual laid back hero and the tone. Not ale to describe it but it's up my street so maybe the other books in my collection can help explain
A real page turner - lots of plots ravel together to keep the story moving. Such a mixture of locations (India and Scotland) but they wove in well. Heavy subjects like the sex trafficking and sea currents were interesting.
I wasn't 100% in love with the Characters though. The man character Cal, is a bit on the weak side. And the portrayal of Jamieson the female Detective erred on the sexiest side.
Otherwise a good read.
I was mistaken in my early view of this book. In the end, I really, though not thoroughly, enjoyed it. The similarities to the protagonist in The Black House are obvious, but whose copying who? I can't be bothered to check. The depiction of DC Jamieson and the sexism it either reveals or perpetuates is still a problem, but there is much to enjoy, and I'm a sucker for a west coast of Scotland story.
A very readable crime story which improbably brings together the issues of people trafficking in rural India and the ecology of the oceans around the northern British Isles. There are one or two points where the plot stretches the reader's credulity, and having built up the story at a comfortable pace everything gets very rushed towards the end. Nevertheless, it is a compelling read.
Denis O'dea
I,m a big fan of Scottish noir and I was pleasantly surprised by the debut. The main character isn't't terribly likable but that in no way detracts from the book. The novel also sheds light on the sex-trafficking industry. All in all, a well written and very enjoyable novel. I look forward to this authors next novel.
Vicky Ashwell
I read this as part of the crime genre for the February genre challenge. Not a book I would have otherwise chosen but I really enjoyed it. It was well paced, I liked the characters and really enjoyed the style.
Très bon premier livre. J'ai aimé le personnage principal, écolo et à fond dans ses trips, puis les deux intrigues qui s'entremêlent, et enfin l'ambiance so Scottish, avec des îles et du gaélique.
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