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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Blood Dimmed Tide by Anthony Quinn

The Blood Dimmed Tide

This is what the publishers have to say about the book:
London at the dawn of 1918 and Ireland’s most famous literary figure, WB Yeats, is immersed in supernatural investigations at his Bloomsbury rooms.
Haunted by the restless spirit of an Irish girl whose body is mysteriously washed ashore in a coffin, Yeats undertakes a perilous journey back to Ireland with his apprentice ghost-catcher Charles Adams to piece together the killer’s identity.
Surrounded by spies, occultists and Irish rebels, the two are led on a gripping journey along Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, through the ruins of its abandoned estates, and into its darkest, most haunted corners.
Falling under the spell of dark forces, Yeats and his ghost-catcher come dangerously close to crossing the invisible line that divides the living from the dead.

This book has a lot going on and certainly made for a roller coaster read. It's an intriguing idea. Part detective story, part supernatural and part historical it has a number of layers and threads which have been woven together by the author into a very unusual whole.

It starts with a tableau that introduces many of the themes that will run through the book. A body of a young woman has been washed up by the sea into a cove off an Irish beach. But who is she, and why is she in a years old coffin?

Dead bodies, ghosts, rebels, smugglers and the sea all loom large throughout the narrative, drawing the different strands of the story together and creating an overarching atmosphere. It is the atmosphere that lingers more than anything when you put the book down.

The story is in part a detective story, but with a difference. Our detective, Charles Adams, has been tasked with the job of finding out who killed Rosemary O'Grady by the poet W B Yeats. The presence of Yeats and other historical figures - Maud Gonne and Winston Churchill, to name but two - gives the story an added depth and I found this aspect of it very interesting.

The story is set during the First World War and just after the Easter Rising, and it makes the most of its historical setting, using wider world events as a backdrop to the action of the story. Because of all the other things going on - Irish rebellion, smuggling, occultism - the solving of the murder is never going to be easy. Charles Adams is led on a series of adventures before he gets anywhere near the truth, and encounters all sort of perils on the way.

I enjoyed the glimpses into the home life of Yeats and his wife that are threaded through the book, and his depiction by the author is very effective. I also found the threading together of this strand with the occult, and with the death of Rosemary O' Grady intriguing. In addition to the strong characters and intriguing plot, The sea, and Ireland itself, are also stars of this book.

Overall an entertaining read for anyone who wants a detective story with a difference.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a copy of this book. You can find out more here

Author bio:

Anthony Quinn is an Irish writer and journalist whose first novel Disappeared was acclaimed by the Daily Mail as 'unquestionably one of the crime novels of the year, written in peerless prose.’ It was shortlisted for a Strand Literary Award by the book critics of the Guardian, LA Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and other US newspapers. It was also listed by Kirkus Reviews as one of the top ten thrillers of 2012. His short stories have twice been shortlisted for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing award.
The Blood-Dimmed Tide is the first in a series of three historical novels set in Ireland during WWI and the War of Independence. He lives in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

1 comment:

Deborah Carr said...

I'm fascinated about this era and WB Yeats and especially love his poem Easter 1919, so this sounds like my type of book.

Thanks for the great review.