Faultlines by Doug Johnstone Orenda Books May 22nd 2018
In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.
On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done.
Having never read any of Johnstone’s previous novels, I was most intrigued by the premise of Faultlines.
Edinburgh, as I remember is a beautiful city but an Edinburgh now on a major faultline is something I could never quite imagine. Add in a volcanic island know as The Inch and the author had me hooked straightaway.
What I loved more than anything were the vivid descriptions of the island itself, the black sand of the beach, the rocky outcrops and the simmering and increasingly violent earth tremors of the islands volcanoes. It was not hard to picture myself right in the thick of it, feeling the heat and tasting the sulphur as the tension and drama of the novel increased. What particularly impressed me was the synergy between the increasingly violent earthquakes and the intensity of the novel.
If that wasn’t enough, we had a cast of characters that I wasn’t sure I particularly warmed to at times. Take the main protagonist Surtsey. A PHD student who lies about the discovery of her married boyfriend Tom on The Inch and then proceeds to drink vast amounts of alcohol and smoke grass, and having seemingly little respect or time for those around her. This may have been due to her being the prime suspect in her boyfriends murder, yet her attitude towards the police did not necessarily help her. I did have enormous empathy towards her dedication to her dying mother and Johnstone was brilliant in his depictions which were both emotive and tender.
Faultlines had many twists and turns, taking me first one way and then another, and just when I thought I had worked out who the murderer was, Johnstone threw in another curve ball and I had to think again. I did guess the culprit but that didn’t matter, it was the way in which Johnstone’s writing led me there that impressed me, as I furiously turned the pages to discover just how it would all end. The ending when it arrived was dramatic and extremely suspenseful, full of high drama, it will certainly have you sitting on the edge of your reading chair!!
So if you like me you love hugely addictive, intense crime novels with a twist, and a host of fantastic characters then Faultlines is for you. I loved it and cannot wait to dive into another Doug Johnstone novel.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a proof copy to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to take part in the blogtour.
About the author
Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His eighth novel, Crash Land, was published by Faber & Faber in November 2016. His previous book, The Jump, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Novel. Gone Again(2013) was an Amazon bestseller and Hit & Run (2012) and was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. Smokeheads (2011) was nominated for the Crimefest Last Laugh Award. Before that Doug published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008). His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.
Doug was recently Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands.
Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released two solo EPs, Keep it Afloat and I Did It Deliberately. He currently plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.
Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.
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