My Review (4 stars out of 5)
1798 – the Port of London. Villainous Irishman Boylin gets the opportunity to take revenge on his nemesis, Captain Tom Pascoe, the man responsible for giving Boylin 200 lashes on board ship. When Pascoe is offered the position of River Surveyor in the newly formed marine police, he must investigate thefts from ships that have caused a loss of government revenue. But with Boylin in charge of unloading, Pascoe knows he must at least be civil to the Irish rogue and use his new position of authority to obtain proof of his suspicions in order to make Boylin face up to his crimes.
Having had this book on my shelf for five years, it’s good to finally get around to reading it. The author goes to great lengths to create a realistic and believable world around the historic Port of London, and his attention to detail pays off. More than anything else, Easter brings his characters and scenes to life so vividly that even if the story wasn’t up to scratch, it’d be worth reading just for the author’s descriptive abilities. As it happens, the plot is an interesting one, though it flits around so much we don’t get as good a grip on the characters and their motivations as we might. There are also too many cliches mixed in with the narrative that should have been given the old heave-ho at the editing stage.
Nevertheless, The Watermen is an enjoyable read that enlightened me on a period of English history I didn’t know much about.