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review 2018-07-16 17:08
Unconventional who-dun-it – recommended to all
Fault Lines - Doug Johnstone

 

 

An unusual thriller, this novel takes place in an imaginary Edinburgh where a volcanic island, the Inch, has materialised in the sea off the coast. Surtsey, our narrator, gets involved in a series of deaths, some of which are murders.

The story is well-told and is quite gripping. Characters are well-developed and interesting as well as being diverse. If the reader is sensitive to stories involving alcohol, drugs, sex etc .., then this is not for you. The book is not long at 215 pages and it makes for a worthwhile holiday read if nothing else. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2018-07-01 13:14
"Fault Lines" by Doug Johnstone - DNF - abandoned at 65% because I didn't care what happened to the main character
Fault Lines - Doug Johnstone

The publisher's summary is:

"In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which 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 The Inch—the new volcanic island—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 of his corpse 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."

 

This led me to imagine I'd be reading a tense thriller in which a brave young vulcanologist in training would be stalked by an evil killer, with the probable involvement of a live volcano.

 

It's not that kind of book. In many ways, it's much better. Most of the “fault lines” are emotional rather than geophysical. It’s introspective, personal and deeply emotional.

 

Way back in Chapter One, when I was still living off the publisher's branding rather than the author's text, I found the novel hard to connect to. There I was, at the beginning of a promising thriller which opened with our heroine being where she shouldn't be, discovering a dead body and running away unseen.

 

Hours later, in the middle of the night our, by now high on grass, heroine receives a text on a phone only she is supposed to know exists and which she retrieved from the dead body.

 

It's a moment of high drama. I should be tense. But the text message takes my badly wired head to the wrong place. The message reads:

 

"I know you were there".

 

And my mind, without hesitation, provided the reply she would make if she were a sassy American Urban Fantasy heroine rather than a Scottish vulcanologist:

 

"But do you know what I did last summer?"

 

Sadly, the heroine's response was "Who is this?" and I was unable to continue with the novel until I'd given the voices in my head time to settle down and pretend to be grown-ups.

 

The chapters that followed didn't pull me into some kind of Clarice Starling versus Hannibal Lecter cat and mouse thing. Instead I learned more about our heroine Surtsey: her relationship with her mother, who is in a hospice dying of cancer in her forties, with her sister who is losing herself in casual sex and alcohol and only really comes alive while serving behind a bar, with her he's-cute-and-convenient classmate/lover and with her she-always-has-great-grass roommate.
 
It was well written, especially the relationship with the dying mother and with the if-I-ignore-it-it-isn't-really-happening sister. The love, grief, shame, anger and helplessness were delivered with an authentic emotional punch.
 
That's what carried me to the 65% mark in the book.
 
I abandoned it after another of Surtsey's paranoid, anger and fear-driven violent outbursts.
 
I realised I don't really care what happens to this woman. I feel sorry for the pain the deaths of those she loves is causing her but to me, she seems selfish, irresponsible, angry and violent. She uses the people around her to meet her needs without really connecting with them and she hides from her emotions and the consequences of her actions by staying drunk or high or both.
 
It's nicely drawn but it doesn't make me root for her.
 
I'll read more of Doug Johnstone's work, but this one isn't for me.

 

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text 2018-06-30 22:11
Reading progress update: I've read 57%.
Fault Lines - Doug Johnstone

This isn’t the techno disaster thriller I thought it would be. Most of the “fault lines” are emotional rather than geophysical. It’s introspective and personal.

 

Now if only I liked the main character, I’d be making happy rapid progress.

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text 2018-06-25 18:50
Reading progress update: I've read 9%.- so maybe I've been reading too many sassy heroines but...
Fault Lines - Doug Johnstone

 So, here I am, at the beginning of a promising thriller which opens with our heroine being where she shouldn't, discovering a dead body and running away unseen.

 

Hours later, in the middle of the night our, by now high, heroine receives a text on a phone only she is supposed to know exists and which she retrieved from the dead body.

 

It's a moment of high drama. I should be tense. But the text message takes my badly wired head to the wrong place.

 

The message reads:

 

"I know you were there".

 

And my mind, without hesitation, provides the reply she would make if she were a sassy American Urban Fantasy heroine rather than a Scottish vulcanologist:

 

"But do you know what I did last summer?"

 

Sadly, the heroine's response was "Who is this?" and I was unable to continue with the novel until I'd given the voices in my head time to settle down and pretend to be grown-ups.

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review 2017-04-30 13:04
Lots of thrills on the Isle of Orkney
Crash Land - Doug Johnstone

A rollicking tale of high adventure in the beautiful windswept isle of Orkney. Finn Sullivan is heading for the mainland of Scotland on a somewhat foggy and miserable day ( something Orcadians are probably rather used to!) Sitting in the departure lounge his eyes set upon the beautiful and mysterious Maddie who is being annoyed by a group of departing oil workers. She seeks the company of our lone hero and soon the drinks are flowing, Finn's libido is in overdrive, and thoughts of his girlfriend Amy long forgotten. As the flight departs, amidst increasing bad weather, the small Loganair twin engined turbo-prop, struggles to maintain height. A fight ensues in the cabin between Finn and one of the oil workers, Maddie becomes hysterical when it is apparent that the plane is returning to Kirkwall airport, she enters the flight deck and soon after the plane is forced to crash land. Finn and Maddie are amongst the few survivors, the police have many questions they  need answered, and it would appear that the beautiful, femme fatale, has disappeared.

 

There are two great elements that I really enjoyed in this book. I loved the way that Finn was immediately spellbound by the beautiful and openly suggestive Maddie, to the point that he was prepared to become her partner in crime, if that is what was needed to retain her interest. Would any full blooded male not have done the same? Would you not be tempted?....of course you would! The second and possibly the most important element was the ruggedness and beauty of the Isle of Orkney itself and the way the author uses this to great effect to showcase his story....."High on this southern headland, they could see for miles over the Pentland Firth to Muckle Skerry, its lighthouse a thin needle against the horizon, then west to Stroma and the Scottish mainland...."....."It felt like the roof of the world up here, the air thinner and purer, the land stronger, the elements more brutal. Like you were connected to the land in a way you couldn't be further south, as if the stuff of your bones was one with the earth, only separated by a fragile layer of skin...."

 

Not wishing to disclose secrets it is suffice to say that Maddie Pierce is not quite the innocent she would have Finn believe, and has her reasons for wanting to leave Orkney as fast as possible. With the body count rising and the whereabouts of a large sum of money unknown time is fast running out for a perplexed Finn as he seeks to find the "love of his libido" and perhaps the answers to some burning questions. Yes this story is more "boys own" than real life events and there are those reviewers who declare the whole experience is somewhat unbelievable. However I think good story telling sometimes needs a fun element, it need not always be believable to be enjoyable. I liked the author's style, this stripped down thriller full of action and thrills against a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Many thanks to the good people at edelweiss for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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