[Review] The Boathouse written by R.J. Harries


Title: The Boathouse
Author: R.J. Harries
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd, Matador
Date of Publication: 28/06/2014
Number of Pages: 266

Rating: 1.5 stars [interesting tidbit, the author gives himself a 5 star rank on Goodreads]

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary:  Sean Archer is a self-taught criminologist and profiler who has been obsessed with crime since his parents were found dead when he was fourteen. A computer savant who has developed digital profiling tools that the police have come to depend on, Sean has acquired a reputation for being able to solve crimes that no one else can. But when his own girlfriend, Alex, is brutally murdered while researching an off-grid torture facility called The Boathouse, his brilliant inventions are of no use. Alex has left little for Sean to go on – only a list of names. Then Peter Sinclair, a property billionaire, contacts Sean for help. His wife, Becky, has been kidnapped and will be killed if he goes to the police or doesn’t follow instructions. Sean agrees to help. Not because he wants the case, but because Peter Sinclair was on Alex’s list. When Sean tracks Becky down, she leads him right where he wants to go. Or so he thinks. As he climbs over the wall of the Boathouse, he’s sure he’s just one step from finding Alex’s killers. But Sean is utterly unprepared for this crime and this place. Goodreads

Review: You have now read the entirety of this novel.

There are a few murders, some half hearted swearing, a lot of grammatical mistakes, many instances of repetition, very sloppy editing (where I have to wonder if, in fact, there was an editor) and an increasing level of boredom.

Allow me to share a few examples;

He pushed himself up with his arms and legs… (location 128)

I found this astonishing! Surely his nose and ears would have been as useful.

…hammering the street like a drummer keeping perfect time.” (location 133)

There are so many similes in the opening section it was almost unbearable.

“Compartmentalising was a skill that enabled him to function whenever his brain was overloaded with vivid memories from all five senses.” (location 137)


The use of the word “scar” for an injury less than 24 hours old is used numerous times. “Wound” would have been more appropriate.

His iPhone rang out with a bell-like ring tone… (location 223) – it either is a bell tone or it isn’t.

Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Professor Miles Davenport, OBE…(location 224) – an excessive description doesn’t make the character anymore interesting or relevant to the story.

“Sinclair folded his arms and stared harshly into Archer’s eyes. After a minute of silence, Sinclair’s men started to shuffle uncomfortably in their seats until Sinclair smiled again and unfolded his arms” (location 317) – This doesn’t make any sense within the context of the rest of the paragraph.

I could go on and believe me when I say, I have the notes to do so. I don’t really want to but I feel that readers need to know what is coming if they decide to read this novel.

“…exact locations of their reflex actions…” (location 651) – this sentence / idea, needs to be developed further. There is no way, after one instance, Archer would have learnt all of this.

As I read through my notes I see multiple references to the lack of commas, sentences with two ideas and no cohesive link, incomplete sentences, passive sentences, and other problems that a good editor should have picked up. For example;

“Cyclists in suits with their computers in rucksacks. Joggers who left their suits in the office. People in office outfits wearing trainers to walk easier and faster, some even overtaking slower people out exercising.” (location 693).

There are also multiple references to the female body, which are insulting and assumptive/ Often, there is no reason for the description to even be included as the character does not appear more than once.

Overall, I find it difficult to reconcile the novel I read, with the novel that a majority of other reviewers read. Where they see brilliance and comparisons to Dan Brown and Lee Child, I see a rather rough draft that would have benefited from a few more aggressive red lines. Where others see a daring and intriguing novel, I see a draft that doesn’t engage with the ideas wanting to be presented. Towards the end of the book the pace and style does seem to improve but I think this is because you’ve become brow beaten and glad it’s nearly finished. I see a draft that doesn’t understand human psychology or physiology. I see a draft that ends in such a convenient and half hearted way, I have to wonder if perhaps the author too, was glad to be done.

I do not want this review to seem brutal and cruel though I know what I have written is harsh. Sean Archer is not a character I care to encounter again.

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