Review: The Fo’c’sle Door By Les Cribb

The Fo’c’sle Door by Les Cribb is a time-traveling mystery saga set in seafaring 18th Century/21st century Cornwall England.

The forecastle, a superstructure in the bow of a merchant ship where the crew is housed; – the spelling is intended to reflect the common pronunciation among seamen.

When unsavory character Whitt arrives from Canada for a friend’s wedding in the Cornish fishing village of Ryeport, he is met off the plane by the mysterious Sexton, a man intent on talking about voodoo and reincarnation. As Whitt struggles to understand why everything is so familiar to him, events intensify, and he is transported to the 18th century, where a story of smuggling, the supernatural and even the devil himself starts to unravel.

This is a brilliant idea for a tale, and Cribb’s well-traveled life and obvious interest in his subject matter makes this novel a rich and exciting read.  I feel like I don’t want to spoil the plot, as it’s such fun, but it’s very enjoyable to follow the Canadian grump through this life-expanding journey.

At times, when Cribb hits his subject, the fishing and sea stories shine, and are as interesting as Sebastian Junger’s “The Perfect Storm”. Other times, historical inaccuracies jolt the reader out of the story – the language and some of the everyday activity is not appropriate for the time and place of the book setting – these portions also could do with an edit down. However, if you can see this book as a rollicking trip through time, you won’t let that stop you thoroughly enjoying the story.

To me, the book should open a chapter in, when the main character arrives in England, as I wasn’t really aware of where I was in the world before that. It turns out the story starts in Canada, but there’s no opening line to set the scene, ” It was a rainy day in Toronto” for example, would have helped me out.

There are some issues with this book – the cover is not striking enough for the powerful story within. The drawing by the author really should be a back design, and a colorful exciting image pertinent to the great depth of adventure inside is required. Also the formatting and copy is in great need of a copy editor – there are many spelling and grammar issues, and widespread incorrect use of the hyphen. Dialogue is not correctly spaced, and sometimes speech marks are missing, leading to confusion. Having said that, the author, Les Cribb wrote this book by dictation after a stroke, and any errors lie with the publishing house, iUniverse, who should have offered a complete service before publication. My advice to the author would be to lift it out of there are start again with CreateSpace to be honest.

All in all, this book would make a fantastic movie – I can see Morgan Freeman and Tom Hanks in the lead roles now, something between Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure and Da Vinci Code. Well worth a read, especially if you are into modern historical seafaring mysteries with a twist.