Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two hundred year old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.
The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.
Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.
I’m such a huge fan of Charlie Cochrane that I rush to pick up anything she writes and this sounded full of elements she could put her unique spin on. It had historical aspects up the wazoo! A wreck of the Troilus on the Cornish coast that seems to haunt this one family and village. So modern times and the past combined, plus a romance between two unique spirits (something Cochrane thrives at – see Jonty and Orlando) and this ought to have been a smash hit. But after I finished reading it, even the clever parts, I was left feeling a bit let down. That’s so unusual after one of her stories. And I’ve been trying to figure out why.
I think it all comes down to a build up that never happens. It all centers around that unlucky frigate the Troilus and the Capell family. Cochrane builds up the suspense of what exactly is happening to Morgan (his headaches, nightmares, etc), the dementia of his mother, the past dementia of his maternal line as the story continues. Dominic, a lovely character btw, adds to the tension with his disbelief yet need to further pull Morgan into more investigations into past history of the wreck and the dead…making things worse. Things ramp up….until…violins at a pitch ala Hitchcock style…Cochrane then proceeds to narratively undo everything she’s just accomplished.
To say I was astonished was putting it nicely.
What Cochrane did was clever. But not satisfying. I went ‘huh, so that’s it?’. Utterly disappointed and sort of sad. And you’re left sort of up in the air about Morgan in some matters.
So what to say about Broke Deep? Its well written, clever certainly. The village and setting comes alive in the story as does the people who live there as well as Morgan and Dominic. The mystery needed to be better clarified and for me, I wish my original thoughts about the blurb had been the right ones. On to the next Charlie Cochrane story!
Cover by: G.D. Leigh. Dramatic and works for the story.
ebook, 249 pages
Published June 5th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626495424 (ISBN13: 9781626495425)