Today I’m pleased to welcome you to my stop on The Write Reads blog tour for Irex an amazing and gripping historical mystery fiction novel.  You can find out more about my thoughts on this book below as well are more about the author and some buy links, but first I’d just like to thank The Write Reads and the author for a chance to read this book and be a part of the tour.  Now, let’s find out what I thought of this book…

Title: Irex
Author: Carl Rackman
Publisher: Rackman Books
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery
Book format: Digital
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Description:  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 soon discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret that threatens the lives of everyone on board. As the Irex battles relentless storms, Hutton fights battles of his own as he becomes mired in the intrigues of his passengers.
When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship. He quickly runs into opposition – powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to spike his inquest. Locked in a conflict with the sinister agents sent to obstruct the investigation, he begins to discover that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed, while the evil that stalked the ship now threatens anyone who seeks to expose it…
Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and unforgettable characters — the gripping first novel by Carl Rackman.
Irex took the Silver Medal in the Historical Fiction category of the #RBRT 2017 Book Awards

*Free copy provided by author and The Write Reads for review…

Review:  This is an amazing and exciting story which gripped me right until the end.  It’s December 1889 and Captain Will Hutton arrives at the port of Greenock where his ship the Irex is about to make its maiden voyage to Rio de Janeiro.  Aboard the ship are tons of pig iron and drainage pipes, as well as three passengers, two men and one woman all making their way to South America.  But upon meeting the passengers before leaving port, Captain Hutton can’t help but question who his passengers are, especially the strange gentleman Mr Clarence.  Meanwhile, two months later coroner Mr Blake arrives on the Isle of Wight to begin an inquest to find out the truth of what happened in the tragic events that lead up to the Irex’s crash on the shores of the island.  But when Blake begins to look into more details about the cause of the crashed vessel, he finds himself facing dangerous forces who aim to stop him in any way possible.

I first found out about Irex when a good blogger friend recommended it to me back in 2017 andever since I’ve wanted to read it, so imagine how excited I was when the opportunity to take part in a blog tour came around, i just had to sign up!  This story is good and interesting from the start.  Beginning in 1889, the story follows Captain Hutton as he arrives on the newly made Irex, a ship made from metal rather than wood and one which can carry a vast load.  After meeting with his crew and the three strangers who will be his passengers for the journey to Rio, it isn’t long before the Irex begins to make its way away from port, pulled along by a tug boat.  However the journey on the sea is fraught with problems from the start and we soon find the Irex having to re-dock at the port when something terrible happens during the first few minutes of sailing away from the tug.

I found myself instantly engrossed in this the story as we learn more about Hutton and the passengers on board as well as more about the alternating story of Mr Blake the coroner and what happens when he and others begin their investigation into finding out what happened with the wrecked Irex two months later.  The chapters alternate between the story on the Irex, beginning in December 1889 and moving on through to January 1890, and the inquest which happens during ten days in February 1890 on the Isle of Wight.  Both stories are interesting and I found myself engrossed with both tales.  The story on board of the Irex was interesting and I love how despite a lot of nautical terms being used, the descriptions were easy enough to understand what was happening.  In fact the descriptions of some of the characters I especially liked, like how Mackie is described in the beginning, or the descriptions of Mr Clarence who is an interesting, if strange, character from the start.  The descriptions really helped suck you into the atmosphere on board the ship and I love how I could vividly imagine the ship and everything happening in my mind as I read this book.

While the story on the Irex is interesting, I found what was happening during the inquest fascinating too.  There are forces trying to stop Blake from being able to investigate properly and this led to some interesting and exciting moments for Blake and his fellow characters too.  I especially enjoyed the reporter Mr Rennie, his character is an interesting one and I like what happens later when some things are revealed about certain characters involved with the Irex.

The story builds up to such a dramatic ending.  There are some interesting revelations about different characters and events and I like how this story keeps you guessing as to what exactly happened especially with Hutton, and how in the end the story comes together to a very vivid, dramatic and amazing ending.  I don’t want to give away what happens but it’s a brilliant ending.  Both the Irex story and the inquest have their own dramatic endings and conclusions, wrapping up the events of the Irex well, and although I loved both tales as they unravelled and I loved what happens, I did find the overall ending, satisfying but also quite a sad ending too.  There is a last chapter, a sort of epilogue that takes place some time after the events of the inquest, and despite what you learn about while reading this last chapter I just didn’t feel like it really added any value to the overall story, and in some ways spoiled what was a good, albeit somewhat sad, ending.  This final chapter felt like it was added more for an added shock at the end rather than really adding anything to the overall story of the Irex and inquest for me.

There are some author’s notes at the end of the book, but in the copy I was given all the author’s notes state is that the Irex was a real ship that crashed on its maiden voyage, however any more information about the characters on board, and what was real and what wasn’t was not written about which I found a shame, as after looking up some of the characters, it was fascinating to learn more about what was real and not about some of the characters mentioned, particularly Clarence.

Overall this story is a brilliant and gripping historical mystery and one I generally enjoyed.  It’s a darker tale with some darker moments too like some deaths and injuries described which mention things like blood but aren’t too gory.  And despite really enjoying itI have to say I still feel disappointed with the ending.  The overall story was very good, although the tale has a bit of a bitter sweet ending for me and even though I really enjoyed reading it and found myself glued to the pages, in the end I just feel like it could have been given a slightly better ending, especially when it comes to what happens with some of the main characters like Hutton.  I know it was baased on thrue events, and it was so good and so dramatic, but that last chapter just felt unnecessary for me and it felt like the book could have been a touch better.  Overall though, it was still a good read and maybe if that last scene had been amended or there had been some more author’s notes about the true historical story versus the rumours and fiction, I might have enjoyed this book even more.

Buy the Book

Irex book cover

Buy from Amazon UK    Buy from Amazon US

About the Author

Carl Rackman author pic

Hi! I’m Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I’ve drawn on my many experiences for my writing.
I write suspense thrillers with a grounded science-fiction theme. I like reading novels that feature atmospheric locales and I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that’s the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.
I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring – all my books usually contain some of these elements!
I hope you’ll enjoy my books and leave reviews. I try to personally thank reviewers if they’ve particularly enjoyed my books.

Visit author’s website    Visit author on Twitter

I hope you have enjoyed my stop on the blog tour today for this great book.  Do check out the other stops on the tour by searching for #Irex on social media. 🙂

What do you think of this book?  Do you like historical fiction stories set on the seas?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂