I am reviewing IREX by Carl Rackman for Rosie’s book review team. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret. As his conflicting feelings toward his passengers threaten both his authority and even his sanity, he realises he must fight to save his ship.
When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…
Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.
What a book!
I liked the writing instantly and was intrigued by the whole premise of the story. It did start a little slow and there was a lot of description throughout the book, but it was fascinating being transported back in time to the Victorian era on the Isle of Wight and aboard the Irex as it attempted to sail to Rio.
There were twists I wasn’t expecting that dragged me deeper into the story and the book was written in a way that compelled you to read on. It switched in time to before the shipwreck with Captain Hutton on the Irex, and afterwards at the inquest to find out what happened to the ship and its occupants.
I love a mystery and this book sets the reader up with plenty of intrigue. It’s very cleverly written, with lots of atmospheric description and great characters. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the two main contenders are Captain Hutton, and the coroner Mr Blake. All the characters are well drawn and believable and I am sad to have finished reading about them.
I highly recommend IREX to those who enjoy historical fiction with plenty of murder and mystery thrown in. And if, like me, you don’t normally read this kind of book, I think you will come to realise what you’ve been missing out on!
My rating 4.5 stars – happily rounding up to 5 stars for Amazon / Goodreads.
On a personal note – This will be my last review for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely and have discovered some wonderful new authors, as well as connecting with many friendly and helpful bloggers along the way. For the next few months I’m dedicating myself to my own writing, but I’ll still try to share reviews of exceptional books I come across.
Now I urge you to go out and buy a copy of IREX, it really is a great read!