Title: Broke Deep (A Porthkennack Novel)
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 249 Pages
At a Glance: Broke Deep is reliable Charlie Cochrane in plot, prose, and characterization. This is a book that fans of the author should enjoy just fine.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 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.
Review: Since the blurb does such a great job of describing the basic plot of Broke Deep, I won’t waste words on a rehash of events, but I will say that there’s a lot to like about this installment in the Porthkennack series, thanks to Charlie Cochrane’s proficiency at telling a solid story with likeable characters, and setting the stage with plenty of local flavor.
Broke Deep is a slow-burn romance, with its share of ups and downs, beginning as a burgeoning friendship, and running alongside the mystery of a long-ago shipwreck off the Cornwall coast that Dominic is researching because of the suspicion that one of the crewmen survived only, perhaps, to be murdered later in a crime of passion. I loved the sense of comradery that built between Morgan and Dominic as Morgan revealed more about himself and his possible familial connection to the events surrounding the Troilus’s sinking as they sifted through local legend and tall tales, including a particular event that strikes fear in Morgan’s heart due, not it small part, to its eerie implausibility.
But where this story really resonated with me on a personal level is with Morgan’s mom, who suffers from dementia, and the reality of losing a parent by degrees—not to a slow death but to the slow ravages of memory loss and the unraveling of personality as well. Watching the rare moments of lucidity slip away before Morgan’s eyes was touching, and the helplessness and frustration so relatable to anyone who has lived through it, not to mention the always underlying concern that you can’t escape your gene pool.
One of the things I love about this author is that her characters are consummately English, whether she’s writing a historical or contemporary novel, and the dialogue tells the story as much as it reveals about her characters: their thoughts, feelings, and personalities. Morgan has just gone through a rather humiliating breakup, and is a bit on the prickly side at times, isn’t particularly looking for a rebound romance, not to mention everything he’s going through with his mother, and I liked how his moods highlighted Dominic’s presence as the more even keeled character; although, Morgan’s moods are understandably turbulent rather than gratuitous for the sake of added drama. These two men can be playful as well, and completely endearing as their connection is tested and, in the end, becomes stronger.
This being the third installment in the Porthkennack series, and the second I’ve read after Joanna Chambers’ The Gathering Storm, I can say that this is shaping up to be another successful Riptide collection of novels. Each book is written as a standalone within the -verse, and Broke Deep is reliable Charlie Cochrane in plot, prose, and characterization. This is a book that fans of the author should enjoy just fine.
You can buy Broke Deep here: