The Rising Tide bears similar hallmarks to Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train

Bantam Press, £12.99

Review by Susan Swarbrick

SAM Lloyd burst onto the literary scene last year with his debut The Memory Wood, a searing psychological thriller.

That novel’s gripping plot centres on a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between a troubled young boy and a teenage girl – a chess prodigy – who has been abducted by persons unknown and is being held in a remote and shadowy prison.

The Memory Wood has one of the biggest sucker-punch twists I’ve read. It is a chilling, suspense-filled and heart-wrenching read.

With that in mind, I was keen to get eyes on The Rising Tide – albeit with some trepidation. What if the curse of the “difficult second novel” reared its ugly head?

Spoiler: I needn’t have worried. While The Rising Tide is a markedly different thriller from The Memory Wood, it is another absorbing and deftly written tale.

The book opens with a scene of domestic bliss-turned-chaos: the urgent hammering of fists on the front door of the sprawling clifftop home in Devon that Lucy Locke shares with her husband Daniel and their children, Billie and Fin.

Lucy learns that the family’s yacht – the Lazy Susan – has been found drifting after a mayday call was radioed in from seven miles offshore.

READ MORE: Great escapes: 25 of the best summer reads for 2021

The next piece of information sends an icy chill through her veins: it was Daniel who raised the alarm from aboard the stricken vessel. But when the RNLI lifeboat arrived, he was nowhere to be seen.

Rescue efforts are mounted as an epic once-in-a-generation storm begins to pummel the coastline. “The ocean looks like a gargantuan black lung, swelling and shrinking, steadily marshalling its power,” writes Lloyd.

When it becomes clear that Daniel isn’t the only one in the fishing village of Skentel that is unaccounted for, Lucy sees her world implode with a series of jaw-dropping revelations.

As the hours tick by, her unravelling demeanour raises some eyebrows. Not least with DI Abraham Rose, who has been called in to piece together the jigsaw of events that unfolded in the lead up to the mayday call from the Lazy Susan.

Scratching below the surface, DI Rose discovers that not all is as picture-perfect as it seems in the Lockes’ world. Daniel’s marine outfitting business is in trouble. Redundancies are planned. Could that be what is behind his disappearance? Or is something altogether more sinister at play?

Lloyd is a born storyteller. He has an eye for detail, drops tantalising breadcrumbs and makes your brain whirr with the prospect that almost anyone could have the means and motive to have carried out some yet-to-be-revealed dark deed.

In that vein, The Rising Tide bears similar hallmarks to The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, in which you’re never quite sure whether the prickly, self-contained and not-always-entirely-likeable main protagonist should be pitied or feared.

READ MORE: Great escapes: 25 of the best summer reads for 2021

Woven throughout are passages where you simply want to pause and savour the imagery as Lloyd lays bare the terrifying raw power of nature, from ferocious-sounding “chariot-wheel clouds” that scythe towards land, to a foreboding “white borehole” within the storm-lashed waves.

“Before her, wind and sea and sky have conspired to create a panorama of devastation,” he writes. “She feels like she’s gazing across a landscape of snow-ravaged mountains – except these mountains are moving, sliding, smashing. The snow on their peaks foams. It bursts and rolls.”

Lloyd is able to turn on a sixpence and send the reader into a tailspin. Every page promises the literary equivalent of a fresh jab to the solar plexus when least expected.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992