The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson

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The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson

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Buy The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Simon Dawson
Reviewed by Simon Dawson
Summary: An old style detective novel full of people being bumped-off to keep them quiet, and an equally old style copper to sort it out.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Fathom
ISBN: 978-0955098246

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Anyone who loves murder mystery novels will know there is a big difference between a policeman and a copper, and Pauline Rowson’s character DI Andy Horton in The Suffocating Sea is every bit a copper. Tough on the outside, soft on the inside Horton is just the chap to start nosing around a suspicious fire on board a boat – at least that’s where it starts, because DI Horton is about to discover he is more involved in the mystery than just as an investigating officer.

As the tally of dead bodies increase, Horton uncovers a strand to the mystery that involves his own mother, who, when Horton was a little boy, went out one day on a date and was never seen or heard from again – until now. Now in conflict between the professional investigation and his personal thoughts about his mother, Horton begins selecting what information to share with his colleagues, and what to keep to himself.

This of course makes for a very complicated life for DI Horton, and in true copper style, gives him that loner edge. He starts working on hunches and as the book travels towards the big-bang ending, with all the different suspects drawn together in a very carefully and cleverly composed plotline, Horton is forced into trusting a colleague, and together they set-out to bring down the bad guys. Ultimately, however, this is Horton’s journey, and it is he who must face his past, and the present in one thrilling climax.

It is thrilling, if a little formulaic. I did root for Horton, but he never really climbed out of the pages and became real for me in the same way Mo Hayder’s DI Jack Caffery does in Skin, (or Treatment, which for me still stands as her best so far), or indeed Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus. The Suffocating Sea feels very much like an old style detective novel, with all the attention on a very well thought out and constructed plot and very little on character development. Sure he has issues, in fact he has lots of issues, but none of them, even his oddly controlled verging on bland feelings about his missing mother, are looked at in any real depth and you can’t help feeling Horton becomes a little less colourful for that.

I had trouble associating with the characters, their thoughts and the dialogue they used, which I think might distance some people as it did me. I couldn't help keep thinking, would you really think like that? Thoughts are wild and expressive of the person and the moment and are the one thing nobody can see, hear or detect, so they can be as crazy as you like, and Horton's just seemed too controlled and steady to strike as real.

The Suffocating Sea is a roast dinner book; it has everything on the plate at once. There’s murder, there’s explosions, there are dead bodies, there’s a troubled copper with lots of issues, there’s an ex wife and a daughter he can’t see, a missing mother, stroppy bad guys and absolutely no love interest what so ever. It’s easy to read, reasonably fast paced and reasonably gripping, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but don’t expect to spend time inside the head of the main character and learn how he feels and what makes him tick on any inner level, as that’s not what this book offers.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading: if this book appealed then try For Everything a Reason by Paul Cave and No Sorrow to Die: An Alice Rice Mystery by Gillian Galbraith.

Buy The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Suffocating Sea: A DI Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel by Pauline Rowson at Amazon.com.

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