Monday, June 20, 2022

Book Review: The Drowning Sea by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Maggie D’Arcy #3)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, atmospheric writing
Cons: Pacing makes the mystery weaker than it could be
The Bottom Line:
Ireland summer
Unofficial murder case
You’ll feel like you’re there

Maggie May Have Quit Her Job, but She’s Still Finding Mystery

The second book in the Maggie D’Arcy series ended with Maggie’s life up in the air.  While I was pretty sure where her life would go big picture, I was interested in learning the particulars, so I eagerly picked up The Drowning Sea.

As this book opens, Maggie has not completely decided what the future holds for her, although she is determined to move to Ireland to live with her boyfriend, Conor, and his son.  If only Maggie’s daughter would adjust to the idea.  In an effort to help with that transition, the four of them are spending the majority of the summer in the West Cork area.

However, their peaceful summer vacation gets interrupted when a body is found in the water.  Lukas Adamik disappeared months ago.  Even though Maggie is not a working homicide detective any more, she still can’t help the questions that come to mind.  Like where has he been all this time?  Who would want to kill him?  Will Maggie find out the truth with her unofficial investigation?

Anyone who has read the first two books in the series will know to settle in for a vivid trip to Ireland.  The writing is atmospheric, and the result takes you to the remote peninsula where the story is set.

I also do really love the characters.  Maggie is a strong lead character, and investigating unofficially doesn’t dampen that at all.  I also enjoy her relationships with Conor and their kids.  They are all complex.  I did have a bit of a hard time keeping all relationships of the people in live in the village straight, but I really came to like some of them as well.

Since this is the third book in the series, there are some other characters we’ve gotten to know in Ireland, and we see them again as well.  I found the complication we learned about one of them very interesting.

Unfortunately, the plot itself was weaker than it could have been.  We get an interesting sub-plot or two, but it feels like the story stalls out a few times over the course of the book.  Then, we hit the final 100 pages, and the payoffs start coming, and I was hooked as the twists finally started coming.  While the climax did answer all our questions, it was definitely weaker than it could have been overall.

The book is written in present tense.  That always throws me a bit when I pick up a book written that way, but it wasn’t long before my brain had adjusted.  While most of the book is written from Maggie’s first-person point of view, we do get some chapters from other character’s third person point of view to help flesh things out.

While this book wasn’t the strongest entry in the series, I did still enjoy checking in with Maggie.  If you’ve read the first two, you’ll want to read The Drowning Sea.  I definitely plan to be back to find out what happens to her next.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Nice review, I 'm glad you're enjoying the series

  2. I'm not a big fan of the present tense either. It always makes the book seem like it got a slower start than it necessarily did as it takes me a bit to get used to it. This series is on my TBR but I think I'll definitely go audio with this one as I do better with uncertain pacing in that format.


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