Dead in the Water: A Ciaphas Cain audio drama
Written by Sandy Mitchell
Performed by Toby Longworth
Publisher: Black Library
ISBN 13: 978-1-84970-052-8
Discs: 1 / Length: 65 minutes (approx)
“Commissar Ciaphas Cain is a renowned and revered hero of the Imperium, a man who has faced and survived some of the vilest creatures the universe can throw at him. But when he is sent to a river-world, he must deal with a dangerous enemy, an enemy whose true identity remains unknown. As his vessel traverses the straits of the planet, Cain must uncover the face of this new foe so that he can understand and escape it. Caught in the enemy crossfire, the commissar has no place to run, and his nerve will be tested to the very limits.”
Ciaphas Cain just can’t stay out of danger for long. In Dead in the Water, Cain and Jurgen find themselves dispatched to a feral river world occupied by some of the Vostroyan Firstborn. The Firstborn have lost a unit of troops and been unable to recover them, and it’s up to Cain to help locate the missing troops, but also to discover who has been at the helm of a wave of killing.
The script is very reminiscent of the short stories that Mitchell has written for Cain, again taking the form of his edited archives, with Inquisitor Vail responsible for turning Cain’s post-retirment recollections into coherant stories. I found the similarities with the story made the drama more accessible, as someone new to audio dramas, but it also allowed Toby Longworth and Sandy Mitchell to play to the strengths of the existing Cain stories.
It wasn’t a faultless listen, however. With regards to the script, I felt there was nothing particularly weak that wasn’t present in the written Cain stories, such as the frequent comments about Jurgen’s earthy aroma and the less than subtle hints that suggest something is about to go wrong, but it was the voice acting that let the drama down for me. Longworth is a brilliant Cain (both young and old), and he voices a very good soldier, but a lot of his voices seemed to merge into one, and I often found it a little difficult to tell who was speaking. If a second voice actor had been brought in to do the Firstborn, I feel it would have made discerning the characters a lot easier.
To conclude, I felt Dead in the Water was a fun and interesting listen, but one that doesn’t push any boundaries or tread new ground. It would have worked equally well as a short story, but it certainly doesn’t lose anything in audio format. Whilst I would hesitate to recommend this to those not familiar with Commissar Cain’s exploits, I would certainly encourage existing fans of Cain to get this audio drama for no reason other than to hear Cain’s voice.
Reviewed by Kathryn A. Ryan