F.G. Cottam

Dark Echo

"..part mystery story, part crime novel and part supernatural thriller"


Dark Echo is a once magnificent sailing ship that has fallen into disrepair. Now under the ownership of the maverick millionaire Magnus Stannard, he is determined to rebuild the craft and sail across the Atlantic in it to mark the start of his retirement. Despite his misgivings, his son agrees to join him on his journey.

But his father's relative lack of sailing experience is likely to be the least of their worries. The yacht was originally owned by the devilish playboy millionaire, Harry Spalding, and every owner since has met with a violent death. Although initially sceptical, Martin Stannard is now convinced that their journey is doomed, a view shared by his journalist girlfriend Suzanne, who is determined to uncover the truth about the boat's history.

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Like Cottam's last book, Dark Echo is part mystery story, part crime novel and part supernatural thriller. The aspect that works the best is the mystery element, where both Suzanne and Martin try to unravel the ship's history. This allows the author to move the action between the trenches of the First World War, through 1920s Southport and up to the present day. The supernatural element also works well as Cottam never stretches the reader's imagination so much that the plot becomes completely unbelievable. The character of Suzanne is by far the most sympathetic of the book. She is alternatively supportive and despairing of her boyfriend's plans and works hard to uncover the dastardly deeds of Harry Spalding in an attempt to break the ship's curse. Her visit to Southport and the uncovering of the crimes there is the highlight of the book both in terms of the plot and for descriptions of 1920s Southport. I would highly recommend this book, to fans of Cottam's previous novel and to those who like an excellent supernatural thriller.

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