Title: Blue Water
Author: Leonora Nattrass
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 20th October 2022
Death came aboard with the cormorant. It arrived on the seventh day of our voyage…
This is the secret report of disgraced former Foreign Office clerk Laurence Jago, written on the mail ship Tankerville en route to Philadelphia. His mission is to aid the civil servant charged with carrying a vital treaty to Congress that will prevent the Americans from joining with the French in their war against Britain.
When the civil servant meets an unfortunate ‘accidental’ end, Laurence becomes the one person standing between Britain and disaster. It is his great chance to redeem himself at Whitehall – except that his predecessor has taken the secret of the treaty’s hiding place to his watery grave.
As the ship is searched, Laurence quickly discovers that his fellow passengers – among them fugitive French aristocrats, an American plantation owner, an Irish actress and her performing bear – all have their own motives to find the treaty for themselves. And as a second death follows the first, Laurence must turn sleuth in order to find the killer before he has an ‘accident’ of his own.
Leonora Nattrass has firmly cemented herself as an auto-buy author for me with this fantastic second outing of the perpetually unlucky and now disgraced Laurence Jago (a character I’ve become really rather fond of). I thought Black Drop was outstandingly good and happily I can confirm that Blue Water is every bit as brilliant. Everything is just pitch perfect, from the claustrophobic yet expansive setting to the expressive language which is full of wit and a distinctive elegant style.
Nattrass blends fact and fiction expertly, weaving real historical figures into the narrative seamlessly without it ever feeling anything other than utterly authentic. The plot is satisfyingly clever and reminded me at times of classic murder mysteries, with the ship setting lending a sort of oppressive atmosphere that gets under the reader’s skin perfectly. I adore the richness of the dialogue, which is as vividly atmospheric as it was in Black Drop, with a wry humour that adds just the right dose of quirkiness to the darkness. Blue Water is the kind of historical fiction that makes me fall in love with the genre all over again – original, gorgeously written and hugely engaging from start to finish. I highly recommend!
I very kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
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