Book Review: The Cold North Sea (Ingo Finch Mystery #2) by Jeff Dawson

The Cold North SeaAbout the Book

A game of spies, a brutal murder, the fate of an Empire…

The North Sea, October 1904 – When Russian warships bombard the Hull trawler fleet, killing innocent fishermen, public outrage pushes Britain and Russia to the brink of war, the sparks from which could inflame the entire Continent.

Doctor Ingo Finch, once of the Royal Army Medical Corps, is long done with military adventuring. But when a stranger seeks him out, citing a murderous conspiracy behind the infamous “Dogger Bank Incident”, Finch is drawn back into the dark world of espionage.

With Whitehall, St Petersburg and rival Bolsheviks vying to manipulate the political crisis, the future of Britain, and Europe, is at stake…

Format: ebook (370 pp.)    Publisher: Canelo
Published: 3rd December 2018      Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Thriller

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Find The Cold North Sea (Ingo Finch Mystery #2) on Goodreads

My Review

I really enjoyed Jeff Dawson’s first book, No Ordinary Killing (read my review here), so I was delighted to see that he’d written a second book in the series.   I’m happy to say I found The Cold North Sea just as enjoyable as its predecessor.

When a stranger with a story of international conspiracy turns up unexpectedly at the house of Dr. Ingo Finch (who has previously spent time in South Africa but is now back in England) and the stranger leaves behind a notebook (of a kind) containing a possible clue, my immediate thought was, “We’re in The Thirty-Nine Steps territory here!”.  Even more so when Finch is warned off investigating further and accused of involvement in a suspicious death.

As the mystery deepens and danger looms from seemingly every direction, a touching and timely reunion sees Finch team up with an old ally.  However, his actions risk putting that ally in danger as well – the last thing in the world he’d want.  The introduction of another narrator creates an additional point of interest as the reader wonders just how – and when – his story will connect with that of Finch.

With a story line full of narrow escapes from what seems like certain death, sinister organisations, ruthless individuals, conspiracy at the highest levels and an atmosphere of impending danger even on the quiet streets of London it’s all very Buchanesque!  (Regular followers of What Cathy Read Next will know I’m a great admirer of the author John Buchan so when I describe something as ‘Buchanesque’ it’s definitely intended as a compliment.)  The book even features the use of trains and, at one point, a bicycle as a means of escape, as utilised by Richard Hannay during more than one of his adventures.

The scene that opens the book is based on a real life incident (variously known as the ‘Russian Outrage’, ‘The Incident of Hull’ or ‘The Dogger Bank Incident’) that could have plunged Russia and Britain into war in 1904.  However, the plot of The Cold North Sea also feels very contemporary in that it deals with Russian aggression against British citizens and the fate of nations.

In the dedication to The Thirty-Nine Steps, addressed to his friend Tommy Nelson, John Buchan recalls their mutual fondness for ‘that elementary type of tale…which we know as the “shocker” – the romance where the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible’.  I don’t think there could be a better description of The Cold North Sea which is an accomplished, tremendously entertaining historical crime thriller full of twists and turns.

I’m hoping I’m right in interpreting the closing chapter of the book as meaning there’ll be more from Ingo Finch in the future.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Canelo, and NetGalley.

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In three words: Compelling, action-packed, suspenseful

Try something similar… The Power House by John Buchan (read my spoiler free review here)

Jeff Dawson CaneloAbout the Author

Jeff Dawson is a journalist and author. He has been a long-standing contributor to The Sunday Times Culture section, writing regular A-list interview-led arts features (interviewees including the likes of Robert De Niro, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Hugh Grant, Angelina Jolie, Jerry Seinfeld and Nicole Kidman). He is also a former US Editor of Empire magazine.

​Jeff is the author of three non-fiction books — Tarantino/Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool (Cassell/Applause, 1995), Back Home: England And The 1970 World Cup (Orion, 2001), which The Times rated “Truly outstanding”, and Dead Reckoning: The Dunedin Star Disaster (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005), the latter nominated for the Mountbatten Maritime Prize.

Historical thriller No Ordinary Killing (2017), an Amazon/Kindle bestseller, was his debut novel. The follow-up, The Cold North Sea (2018), continues the adventures of Captain Ingo Finch.  [Photo credit: Amazon author page]

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