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The Turning Tide by Brooke Magnanti

February 10, 2016

Erykah Macdonald has a nice life – the kind of life you’re meant to want. But on her twentieth wedding anniversary, she’s about to cross a line.

Several hundred miles away in the shallow waters of a Hebridean island, a body is found. It’s been in the water long enough to make identification tricky but it’s clear this is no accidental death.

Erykah knows she’s about to make a choice you can’t reverse – but she’s lived with secrets most of her life – she thinks she’s ready. The trouble is, there are far worse secrets than her own about to emerge.

From the gurney of a morgue in the Highlands, to the media circus of the national press, and from the seemingly calm suburbs of London to the powerplays in Westminster, a net is tightening. And those that find themselves caught in are willing to kill to get out with reputations intact.

Erykah must work out what she’s capable of if she’s going to keep her head above water – she must leave behind her comfortable life and start breaking rules. She knows she should be scared…but sometimes, stepping over the line is the first step to freedom…


I was keen to read this book because I have followed Brooke Magnanti’s writing for years and very much enjoyed it. Her Belle De Jour blog and the subsequent books were both lively and funny so I looked forward to her first foray into crime writing.


Sadly, I didn’t warm to The Turning Tide from the outset. This may be because I like my thrillers played fairly straight down the line and this one has more than a touch of farce to it.
The plot is set against the backdrop of a Scotland post referendum but although there are indeed many strange characters in Scottish politics these days – the ones who are involved in this new political party are simply too far-fetched to be believable. I know that the satire was intended, but, for me, it doesn’t really come off.

I did like the fact that that there are good, strong female roles in the book who aren’t always young and pretty and Erykah herself is a straightforward, no nonsense woman who is able to take pretty much everything that is thrown at her and come out on the right side.

The story centres around a murder that soon appears to have connections with the world of politics and the action moves from Scotland to London. Erykah’s marriage is faltering and as her husband gives her news of a lottery win that may just pull them out of trouble and offer Erykah the hope of a new life, it soon becomes clear that the win is no more than a sham and something much more sinister is going on.

Surprisingly, given that Magnanti is a forensic scientist, there isn’t too much in the plot that that depends on that expertise. There is a rather good sub plot involving social media and scandal, which is nicely observed and offers some wry observations about media manipulation.

The plot is really quite convoluted, and though the threads are drawn together ably enough, in the end the style and the contrived plot just didn’t work for me.


The Turning Tide is published by Orion on 25th February 2016

From → Thriller

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