Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall a decent read, 16 May 2011
This review is from: The Watermen (Hardcover)
The Watermen - it's the end of the eighteenth century and the Napoleonic Wars are raging over on the continent. In the heart of gang controlled London, revenue is being bled from the shipping industry through relatively sophisticated organised crime networks. Theft rates have now reached a point where central Government has begun to take notice and the honourable gentlemen are becoming very worried at the effect that this will have on the war effort. Enough is enough and the river police are born...

This plot intrigued me from the very beginning and I was fully expecting a Dickensian like depiction of London's underworld. And whilst the author nailed the descriptions of the buildings and waterways and thoroughly conveyed an atmosphere of poverty and insecurity, his characterisation was ever so slightly wooden. The criminals were lukewarm and the central protagonist and his sidekick often devoid of real emotion. In addition, the relationship between Boylin the criminal and Pascoe the river surveyor was slightly underplayed. The author intended to create a real sense of animosity and hatred between the pair, yet Boylin was often portrayed as a quivering coward and Pascoe as a benevolent saint.

The author also attempted to weave together several strands and subthemes which would be brought together in a breathtaking revelatory climax. Unfortunately, many of the twists could be spotted a mile off and as such, when you arrived at the revelation it was a bit of a damp squib. That was slightly frustrating and it also created a situation where you felt like you had skipped ahead and was thus waiting for the book to catch up with you.

I think if the author is to create further adventures and a solid fan-base for his detective duo then he really needs to improve upon his characterisation. With so many historical fictional giants in the field, he could be in real danger of becoming overshadowed if he doesn't capitalise on his nicely created niche. That would be a shame because this book was a decent read and superbly researched. If the characters have more of a personality and the research is supplemented with larger chunks of action, then this could become a very enjoyable series.

As it stands however, we are left with a very well researched book with an interesting plot and unique theme, but one which needs a little fine tuning.

I will be buying book two (if there is a book two), but I will be expecting the author to step up and give his characters some clout.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (46 customer reviews)
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Reviewer

J. Cooper
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Location: Sheffield, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,291