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

Purchase Links*  ǀ | iBooks
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

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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Blog Tour/Book Review: The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

The Blue banner

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for historical novel, The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau, alongside my tour buddy, Margaret at Just One More Chapter.  You can read my review below.

My thanks for Hannah at Endeavour Media for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my advance review copy of The Blue.  Do check out the tour banner at the bottom of this post to see the other fabulous book bloggers taking part in the tour.

The BlueAbout the Book

In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue…

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.  With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?

Format: Paperback, ebook (430 pp.)    Publisher: Endeavour Quill
Published: 3rd December 2018      Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Blue on Goodreads

My Review

Genevieve makes for a feisty, resourceful and independent-minded heroine.  Finding her ambition to be an artist thwarted by her lack of independent means, her gender and the prejudices of the time, she unwillingly enters into a bargain that will see her come up against an equally resourceful but entirely unscrupulous adversary.  Genevieve will soon discover that, when it comes to the search for the secret to creating something new and unique in the world of porcelain, there are men (and women) who will stop at nothing.

It’s not long before Genevieve is well and truly out of her depth, uncertain who she can trust and risking not just her own life but the safety of those close to her.  Not only that, but she discovers her actions may jeopardise her faith, even the country of her birth.  Along the way, Genevieve – and the reader – gain fascinating insights into the history of porcelain and why, for some, it has become not just a money-making opportunity but an obsession.

Genevieve’s adventures are book-ended cleverly by her attendance at two very different social gatherings, the last of which results in her rescue from the sticky situation in which she finds herself courtesy of a particularly unlikely source.

The Blue is full of twists and turns, intrigue and unexpected revelations.  It’s a skilfully told story that positively races along, making for an engaging, colourful and compelling read.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of publishers, Endeavour Quill.

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In three words: Engaging, suspenseful, spirited

Try something similar…A Light of Her Own by Carrie Callaghan (read my review here)

NancyAbout the Author

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, DuJour, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at City University of New York and a regular contributor to Town & Country, Purist, and The Vintage News.

A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. The Crown, her first novel and an Oprah pick, was published in 2012; the sequel, The Chalice, followed in 2013. The third in the trilogy, The Tapestry, was published by Touchstone in 2015. Her fourth novel, The Blue, was published on 3rd December.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

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The Blue tour banner FINAL