Creatures Of The Pool (published in 2010) follows Gavin Meadows, a man who gives tours through Liverpool highlighting the macabre histories of the area including the noting of locations associated with a Jack the Ripper suspect, Spring Heel Jack and places where notable historical figures reportedly went mad, etc. In recent days, Gavin’s usually upbeat father, a major history buff in his own right, had begun acting irrationally and had started obsessing over some obscure research he’d been doing about a street once called Frog Lane. He also started to believe the local library was purposely blocking him from access to information he’d been seeking. He even suspected Gavin’s girlfriend Lucinda, who works at the library, may be acting as a spy for them.
When Gavin’s father suddenly disappears, he begins searching for him as the local police force seem uninterested in making much effort to assist. A couple officers in particular seem irritated and hostile towards Gavin’s inquiries into how their investigation is proceeding. Meanwhile, Gavin is also dealing with mounting pressure from a high ranking tourism official who’s threatening to pull their recommendations for Gavin’s tours which would badly damage his business. All these problems, along with how his own mind relentlessly streams a flow of strange historical information which he’s unable to stop, begins to push Gavin towards a mental breaking point.
This is another excellent novel by Ramsey. I love all the wonderfully strange historical Liverpool facts Gavin can’t help but recall everywhere he goes, as well as the places his investigation takes him as he delves through old texts and legends in search of what his father had been researching before his mysterious disappearance. Lucinda is well-portrayed as Gavin’s supportive, loving girlfriend who helps him along the way. With his quirky sense of humor and witty remarks, Gavin’s father is also a fun character previous to his vanishing. As always, Ramsey’s style of writing is beautifully rendered and evocative – his word choices managing to portray both what is being seen directly as well as hinting at darker things which may be moldering beneath the surface. Overall, this was a great read which kept me hooked throughout and successfully pulls off an exciting, tension-filled final act.
Review by Matt Cowan