Today Mandie takes over and as part of our Year Of Orenda shares her thoughts on Fault Lines the brilliant thriller from Doug Johnstone. If you’d like to read my thoughts on the book you can find them right here. If you’d like to know more about the book, read on:
About the Book
Brilliantly constructed speculative crime fiction
A classic whodunit
Dark psychological suspense
Doug Johnstone returns with his most explosive and original thriller yet…
A little lie … a seismic secret … and the cracks are beginning to show…
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…
I had heard great things about this book long before I managed to pick it up, so to say I was looking forward to reading it is possibly a little bit of an understatement. With the book set in a place that I love and visit every year for my birthday, I was intrigued to see how much of the place I recognised and how much had changed for the book. The answer to that is, except for the volcanic island, very little.
The book opens with the Surtsey Mackenzie making a late-night trip to the island in the Forth of Firth to meet up with her professor and lover Tom Lawrie. When she gets there, she finds him dead and goes into a complete panic as Tom is married and she is also currently in a relationship with another person. The last thing she needs is this all coming to light, and several people’s lives being destroyed and for her to become the prime suspect. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens and Surtsey is left trying to work out who killed Tom and why as her personal life implodes around her.
Initially the character of Surtsey annoyed me as she seemed on a mission of self-preservation no matter what it meant for anyone else and if she had just been honest from the start then some of the problems might not have been quite so big. The more I got into the book however, the more I started to sympathise with her. She is dealing with a mother who is dying and a sister who is not giving her much support with that, and her best friend seems to think that smoking pot and getting drunk is the answer to everything so she doesn’t really have the kind of support system she may need in the circumstances. With an unknown someone taunting her and threatening to expose her secret and potentially lay the blame at her door, you can really sense Surtsey’s desperation to keep a handle on her life.
The book really brought to life the Edinburgh I love with that extra little twist. Although I may not particularly like any of the characters due to their actions, it is these very actions that make them more real. Some of the characters are hiding more than you realise and they way that the author slowly reveals these true characteristics kept me turning the pages longer into the night that I probably should have.
With an ending that was both unexpected and thrilling Doug Johnstone has certainly packed a lot into this relatively short book. This may have been my first journey into his books but having thoroughly enjoyed Fault Lines it certainly won’t be the last that I read by this author.
About the Author
Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player- manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.
Books by Doug Johnstone: