Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review - The River ofFire (JS)

The River of Fire (Tom Pascoe 2) by Patrick Easter

Having read book 1 so recently, I was going to wait before moving on to the next in the series, well that was the plan anyway. However, anyone who has read my reviews before, knows that I am terrible at waiting when I have the next book in the series burning a hole in my book shelf.

This is the description:

River Surveyor Tom Pascoe of the Marine Police finds the bodies of two men entombed in the crew cabin of a sunken lugger. Suspicion falls on a third member of the crew seen fleeing the scene. He had a known motive for murder. Against the background of a nation at war with Napoleon, Tom Pascoe finds his own life under threat as he digs deeper into the case. He uncovers the existence of French agents whose task is to undermine England's ability to continue the war. Tom's job is further complicated by the presence of a new member of the police crew with a shocking secret of his own...

This book starts  a few months after the end of Book 1 and sees Tom Pascoe now a well known figure in London, comfortable in his role as a River surveyor with Sam Hart now his confirmed right hand man.

He is called to the scene of a sunken ship, holed deliberately and left to sink with two crew members locked in their cabin. A rumour soon spreads that a third injured man was seen leaving the scene, and the hunt is on to find him. Talk of two men seen trying to find this crewman also surface and Tom realises that these are the bigger threat not only to this crewman but to London and it’s commerce as a whole.

My main complaint about the first book was that the characters were wooden and that at some points, the writing turned quite factual which did spoil the story slightly. 

These faults were corrected as I hoped they would be, although Pascoe is still being built as character, he is much stronger in this tale, more rounded with a history of his own. The characters around him are more two-dimensional as well; Sam Hart seems much more real, and stands out as someone in his own right rather than just a name. Along with the sub plot of Pascoe’s relationship with the nurse at the hospital, you have the added story line of his crewmember Ruxley.

The men that Pascoe meets in the course of the investigation are described well and again they add detail and depth to the story. I really liked the description of Pascoe’s journey to Hastings and the surrounding area, knowing that area quite well, it is interesting to read how it was then and how complicated and uncomfortable the journey must have been.
There is much violence in this story, the main culprit of which is one of the French agents Dubois, who is an old enemy of Pascoe. The story line is well thought out and you are hooked from chapter to chapter waiting to see what happens next as the pace of the writing is fast and full of chases so is exciting to read.

As you can by this positive review, this book is a vast improvement on the last, and promises excellent things for the next, which yes is also sitting on my shelf.

9 out of 10