Faultless tartan noir
Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Doug Johnstone's ninth novel is an explosive thriller, metaphorically and literally. Unlike so many crime novels set in the capital, delving into the shadows of Old Town closes or foreboding peripheral schemes, the fantastical twist here is Johnstone has created his own setting - an imagined version of the Firth of Forth where volcanic activity has created a new island, The Inch. This premise provides a captivating backdrop to the terrible crime introduced early on.
The central protagonist, Surtsey, is a flawed individual, desperately struggling to uncover the truth behind a brutal slaying while simultaneously fearing the exposure of her own double-life. The problem is someone else seems to know a lot more than she does.
Mentioning much more of the plot would start giving too much away, so here's a broader overview. This crime thriller is a fantastic read, its characters plausible, the plotline harbouring unexpected twists and turns at every corner. The Inch, active and prone to seismic activity, dominates the landscape, an unpredictable and volatile presence mirroring the tension on the mainland. The narrative, terse and unhampered by sentimentality, propels the reader towards a shattering climax.
What resonated with myself was the Edinburgh setting, particularly Portobello, its coastal suburb. It always makes an entertaining read when you can almost recognise the characters, and I could imagine spotting Surtsey in our local, The Espy!
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