Hello and welcome to my stop of the In Dark Water blog tour! A huge thanks to Kelly Lacey for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I always enjoy a good detective thriller and I liked the sound of the blurb of this debut, so I couldn’t resist joining the tour. And it turned out to be an interesting start of a new detective series! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: In Dark Water
(Detective Shona Oliver #1)

Author: Lynne McEwan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: June 24th 2021
Publisher: Canelo
Finished reading: May 21st 2021
Pages: 273

“She’d had two hours’ rest in the last twenty-four, but she welcomed the pain, the tiredness. This was what hard graft felt like, and hard graft was how you got results.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Canelo in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I always enjoy discovering new detective thrillers and there was just something about the blurb of In Dark Water that caught my attention immediately. The promise of a lifeboat angle as well as more than one investigation to follow sounded like an excellent start for this new series, and the Scottish setting was a bonus as well. I’ve been looking forward to start this debut ever since it started hanging out on my kindle, and I have to say that it turned out to be a solid debut and first book of a detective series.

The first thing that stands out in In Dark Water is the Scottish setting of course. The many descriptions of the setting really made the small Scottish towns come alive and I loved that the author incorporated Scottish phrases into the dialogues. This gave the story a more authentic feel and definitely made my inner philologist happy. It is quite easy to understand the meaning from the context, so I had no problems understanding those parts of the dialogues and it didn’t slow me down while reading.

I also really liked the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) element in the story. The fact that our new lead character Shona Oliver not only is a detective, but also a RNLI volunteer really gives the story an unique touch. The fact that the lifeboat center and rescues play a significant role in the plot really help making this detective thriller stand out, and I always like an original angle in a story. I also enjoyed learning a bit more about the RNLI too and how they work, and it was great to see how this element was incorporated into the plot.

In Dark Water initially seems to be an investigation into the body of a woman Shona found while answering a RNLI call, but the plot soon becomes a lot more complicated. Shona and her team will have a lot more cases to investigate along the way, and a lot of things are happening in her personal life as well. Personally, I found the plot to be a tad too overburdened by so many different elements and how things ended up evolving was both a bit farfetched and too convenient. I did like the part involving liaison with the Cumbria police and Dan was a great addition as a character, but as a whole I felt like this story wanted to juggle too many different elements while also having a clean ending.

I’m also still not 100% sure what to make of Wee Shona herself. While I still love the fact that she is a RNLI volunteer and I like the way she investigates, there was also something about her that didn’t work for me. The whole ‘secret’ she was hiding was made bigger than it was, and her husband Rob came over as a bit of a cliche. I do see a lot of potential with her team as I mostly liked their dynamics and banter.

As a whole, In Dark Water was a solid start of a new detective series that mixes a RNLI angle with multiple investigations. The Scottish setting is a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Glasgow-born Lynne McEwan is a former newspaper photographer turned crime author. She’s covered stories including the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the first Gulf War in addition to many high profile murder cases. She currently lives in Lincoln and is in the final year of an MA in Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia.

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