Wednesday, 13 April 2011
‘Dead in the Water (Ciaphas Cain)’ – Sandy Mitchell (Black Library)
Commissar Ciaphas Cain is a renowned hero of the Imperium; an officer who has faced down the worst that the xenos races and creatures from the warp have thrown at him. What Cain isn’t so well known for though is the fact that he’s the biggest coward in the Commissariat and will do anything to stay out of the firing line. Overseeing the pacification of a feral river world seems like the ideal posting for Cain then but something deadly is stirring on one of the many islands and is about to make a relatively simple posting a lot more complicated for the erstwhile Commissar. The only way that Cain can avoid this new threat is to understand it and that means meeting it head on...
‘Dead in the Water’ proved to be a bit of a mixed bag for me in that I wasn’t sure what it was meant to be. Was it a humorous episode along the same lines as previous outings for Cain? Well, the main source of laughs for me were not there at all this time round. To be fair though, I’m not sure how you could incorporate footnotes into an audio book... Any suggestions? If my reading of the books is correct then it’s Inquisitor Amberley Vail’s footnotes that make for the humour instead of Cain’s narrative. What you’re left with instead are a series of events where Cain is trying to get out of trouble without looking like he is trying to get out of trouble. If there is a joke there (I didn’t see it but you might) then it gets repetitive very quickly. If you’re looking at it terms of tension being racked up though, ‘Dead in the Water’ is more successful in this respect. The plot is very simple but Mitchell leaves you in no doubt as to what the stakes are for our main Cain and that’s where the fun comes in. You can see the ending coming (it’s not an alien threat so it doesn’t take much to work out) but the sound effects beef things up nicely and gives it all the sense of the spectacular that it needs. Toby Longworth is on fine form as always and I particularly liked the way he gave different voices to the young Cain and the retired Cain telling the story.
I think the best thing to say here is that fans of Ciaphas Cain will enjoy ‘Dead in the Water’, probably for all the same reasons that you guys love the books. For me though, ‘Dead in the Water’ made for an entertaining hour’s listening but didn’t really do what I thought it set out to.
Seven out of Ten