Source: Review copy
Publication: 8th July 2021 from Bantam Press
My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy for review
HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?
The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.
Life can change in a heartbeat.
Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops, a devoted husband and two beloved children.
Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?
As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened on board. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .
I was a big fan of Sam Lloyd’s The Memory Wood and so was intrigued to see what his second novel would deliver. It is certainly steeped in atmosphere. Sam Lloyd’s description of the South West coastal town of Skental is exemplary.
The Rising Tide is the story of Lucy Locke. Lucy owns the Driftnet, a hub for tourists and locals alike,. It is a place where arts and crafts are displayed, where music is made and where you can get the best coffee and baking for miles around.
Lucy is popular in the village. She and her husband Daniel live in a big house on Mortis Point (just a bit prophetic) and Daniel , together with his friend Nick, is co-owner of Locke-Povey Marine, a major employer in the town. Lucy and Dam have two children, Billie, 18 and Fin who is much younger. It’s a wonderful life and the couple seem very happy. Lucy had Billie before she met Daniel but they are a bonded unit.
Lock-Povey Marine is in some financial trouble, and Lucy is trying to find out what’s going on when the novel opens. She doesn’t think it’s really a major issue, though Nick is someone you would want to be careful around, especially if you are Lucy.
Our story is narrated by Lucy, a woman who seems settled and happy in her life with a husband she loves and children who complete her life. So when, suddenly it all goes very wrong, Lucy is left shocked and distraught.
Lucy has sent Fin off to school and Daniel off to work when she hears that their yacht, The Lazy Susan is in trouble in the midst of a storm. Worse, her children are not where they should be and her fears are rapidly rising as it looks possible, probable even, that Daniel has not only got into trouble on the increasingly wild and turbulent sea, but that he has Fin and Billie with him.
Lucy is physically and emotionally sick. She does not understand why this might have happened. Why Daniel would not have told her of his plans? Why the yacht was out at all in such a storm? She only knows she has to go out looking for them whatever the cost to her own safety.
The suspicions of the Police are aroused, though and when it transpires that Daniel took Fin from school using a trumped up excuse, an investigation is swiftly mounted. DI Abraham Rose is sent to investigate. DI Rose is that rarest of men, a devout religious police officer who has never married; though as we will find later, he has regrets.
The Rising Tide is mainly Lucy’s story and is told with interspersed flashbacks which cut into what becomes an almost unrelenting tension as the storm rages and becomes almost biblical in its proportions. Sam Lloyd’s descriptive powers are used full force here and his depiction of the storm is beautifully involving as we hear the sea crashing against the rocks, feel the force of tempestuous waves and let the sea take us over so that it can thrash out its rage, wreaking havoc and destruction across the North Devon coast.
There’s a curious rhythm to this tempest too; its turmoil matching Lucy’s – both thrashing about as if searching for answers, both boiling with rage and unrelenting in their pressure. This is heart –pounding drama of Lear-like proportions. Amidst the wild sea, Lucy is on the brink of madness. At the mercy of the natural world she cannot withstand this violent storm and that only serves to make us so aware of her own vulnerability.
There is something very raw and almost biblical in a storm like this and that is underlined by the devout nature of D.I.Rose, a strange detective for this time, but one whose function is to be the steadfast rock against which all human frailty can be measured.
As we begin to understand what is and has transpired, so Sam Lloyd does the unthinkable and again ratchets up the tension, leading to some strong heart-in-mouth moments. When, finally this complex and twisted story is exposed, the cruelty of it leaves you gasping in a jaw dropping way.
I was in thrall to this book for its wonderful, edge-of-the-seat writing and the twisty layered plot as well as Lloyd’s imaginative creation of a storm beyond storms. I would have liked a little more of Lucy’s backstory to better lay the foundations for the denouement which I felt a bit unprepared for, but that’s a small gripe amidst a powerful and fantastically written book.
Verdict: Dark, unrelenting and exposing the nature of human weakness, this is a complex and layered read that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Powerful and evocative The Rising Tide is a turbulent read that catches you up in a maelstrom of emotions.
Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, where he learned his love of storytelling. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. His debut thriller, The Memory Wood, was published to huge critical acclaim in 2020. The Rising Tide is his second thriller.