The Girl on the Boat by JD Wood

The Girl on the Boat is listed as the first book in the Cal and Sofie series, but this is a bit misleading. It is actually the first half of a two-part story which concludes in Don’t Look Down. It is better to know this before you start reading as it will be less confusing. The plot is complicated, but in simple terms it concerns a pharmaceutical company, Cambridge Bio, founded by MP Walter Crane, and an illegal drug trial. Crane has aspirations to become leader of his party, something the Russians are also working behind the scenes to facilitate. Sofie’s dad, who was participating in the drug trial, died six months previously in what was presumed to be an accident. Sofie’s journalist friend Kate is investigating the drug company and plants the seed of doubt that draws Sofie into this dangerous conspiracy.

The story is told from both Sofie and Cal’s perspective, with additional sections from other characters, so the reader gets a rounded picture of what is going on and knows more than either Sofie or Cal. Of the two, I found Cal more believable than Sofie. I don’t know if this was a case of a male writer not creating a convincing female protagonist, but I really did not take to Sofie at all. Hopefully, the next part of the story will change my opinion.  Apart from a short conversation near the beginning, Cal and Sofie do not meet properly until almost the end of The Girl on the Boat. In books like this there would normally be a lot more interaction between the main characters earlier in the narrative. This is a promising debut thriller from JD Wood, though he has written in other genres, and I look forward to reading the conclusion to Sofia and Cal’s adventure. I read this as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT