A confident historical crime debut which did not really engage me, but I nevertheless appreciated how much research had gone into the writing.
Here’s the blurb, which explains the premise much better than I can:
In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret.
When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…
Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.
The narrative alternates between the investigation of the shipwreck and the events which preceded it. I found the historical context to be very competently explained without making it a history lesson (always a hazard with the genre). There are distinctive and memorable characters and the writing style has an authentic tone. It has an excellent structure and is based on a true event so is meticulously researched. I was not invested in the story, partly because of the nautical content which I’m afraid doesn’t interest me, but mostly because the narrative style was not really my cup of tea. However, I’m sure this novel will appeal to many fans of historical mystery fiction and it’s an impressive debut.
Independently published in 2016.
Thank you to TheWriteReads and the author for the e-copy.
Part of the TheWriteReads blog tour.