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The Sea Detective

(Cal McGill, Sea Detective #1)

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,766 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Cal McGill is an Edinburgh-based oceanographer, environmentalist and one-of-a-kind investigator.

Using his knowledge of the waves - ocean currents, prevailing winds, shipping records - McGill can track where objects have come from, or where they've gone. It's a unique skill that can help solve all sorts of mysteries.

Such as when two severed feet wash up miles apart on two
...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 5th 2015 by Penguin (first published May 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,766 ratings  ·  193 reviews


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Susan Johnson
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Paromjit
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sandy
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
...more
Alex Cantone
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017, mystery
Cal McGill presents us with a new type of investigator, oceanographer & eco-warrior as he charts the ocean currents and tides to identify the culprits of oil spills and flotsam and jetsam thrown up on the beaches of Scotland and its many islands. The book opens with him under police investigation for minor activist acts against a Scottish minster, and reveals his ocean maps on the wall with photos of his great-grandfather lost at sea in WWII and the body of an Indian girl caught up a fishing ...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
Barbara
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is multi-layered and while tackling themes that are addressed in other novels in the crime genre, includes complex sub-themes. Cal McGill is a PhD student studying sea currents in a novel and innovative way. His "obsession" with the theme began in childhood. His maternal grandfather, an islander, died in the Second World War, as part of a crew of a local shipping boat that was converted to war use. His body was lost at sea and for years Cal imagined he would search for his ...more
Cathy Cole
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Rob Kitchin
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Stuart Murray
The Sea Detective. By Mark Douglas-Home 3-1/2 Stars
Three stories intertwine in this tale that begins with Indian children being sold into the sex trade. It doesn’t take long before we discover what becomes of them, and where they end up. The second tale involves Cal McGill, a character who is introduced to the reader as a petty criminal intent on placing plants in the gardens of government officials as a form of environmental protest, or call for action.
The story then switches to some detectives
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Sid Nuncius
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,
...more
Lynn
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Coopknits
This was an interesting book but it was completely ruined for me by the authors treatment one of the principal female characters. The way in which other people treated her because she was 'plain and ugly' was unrealistic, at best it was clumsy and more likely deliberately offensive. This author believes someone who wears size 18 clothes is so grotesquely fat that they can't sit in chairs like 'normal' people can and that they sweat profusely. It really is a shame because other than this I ...more
Cathleen
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, 2018-reads
The novel interweaves the lives of three people, Cal McGill, a part-time Ph.d student in oceanography, Helen Jamieson, an up-and-coming detective overlooked and mocked because she’s not covergirl pretty, and Bisanti, a teenaged girl sold to a sex trafficking ring. Told from their three points of view, the novel developed each character as multi-dimensional, injured but resilient, and resourceful. The crimes committed overlap and connect with each other, and each one of them emerge as allies and ...more
Book Addict Shaun
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
David Highton
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one - Cal McGill is a an unusual main character, an oceanograther and eco-activist tracing buried secrets about his grandfather, when he gets drawn into a child sex trafficking ring
Mike Sumner
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
It’s always a great feeling when you thoroughly enjoy a book, it is even better when you discover that the said book is the first in a series. The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas–Home is a Scotland set, crime based mystery novel. The novel features a not so average detective, Cal McGill who is an oceanographer. Cal’s interest and expertise lies in tracing the origins in debris discovered in the ocean. He solves cases based on his understanding of the patterns of the ocean’s tides and wind ...more
GlenK
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Peggy
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
Anne
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
the_cat
There was enough going on here for two books. Unputdownable.
Penny
A new author to me - another great Scottish crime writer! Did they put something in the water up there?!!

Here we have a young misfit type who is having troubles with his love-life, is a bit of an activist and likes to study currents, tides, flows etc across the Atlantic and North Sea. Meanwhile we meet a couple of cops who don't get on with each other and then body parts start washing up on different beaches. There are 3 --4 threads of the story and I wouldn't want to spoil it but this is a very
...more
Lari Don
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Caryl Williams
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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
...more
Sandra
Feb 11, 2013 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
...more
Jim
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ginnz
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Sallie
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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. It received critical praise, becoming a Sunday Times 'Crime Book of the Month' and was followed by The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea ('simply intoxicating,’ the Library ...more

Other books in the series

Cal McGill, Sea Detective (4 books)
  • The Woman Who Walked into the Sea
  • The Malice of Waves
  • Untitled (Cal McGill, Sea Detective #4)
“She had read about a pram in the hall being the enemy of intelligent women. With apologies to whoever wrote that, was there no greater enemy of a woman’s good mind than a man in bed? Stop” 0 likes
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