Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Review published on May 31, 2018.

I wasn’t completely certain what to expect from Fault Lines but it intrigued me so much, and given that I’d heard some great things about it, I knew I wanted to give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed; in fact, I loved this book.

Surtsey McKenzie lives in Edinburgh. But this is not Edinburgh as we know it. In this Edinburgh there is a volcanic island in the Firth of Forth called The Inch. Surtsey is part of a volcanology team studying the island and one day she discovers the body of her lover, Tom, there. This sets in motion a chain of events in which Surtsey finds herself lurching from one shocking event to another.

This is such a clever and engrossing read. The different, but so similar, landscape is fascinating and the idea that there could be a volcanic island in the UK and earthquakes happening all the time is a little freaky. I think what worked so well for me was that it was so plausible in that it was worked into the story as just part of everyday life, something that the locals saw every day.

Then there’s Surtsey, with the fabulous name (she was named after an Icelandic volcanic island). She’s mid-20s, pretty difficult to like, prickly and as volatile as a volcano, and yet I did rather like her. She’s very strong, very confident and I liked that about her. I didn’t take to any of the characters particularly, but I don’t care about that and don’t need to like characters when the story is so strong and so well plotted.

Fault Lines is a thriller and a murder mystery. It really did thrill me. It is a short read at 215 pages and I shot through it. Short chapters helped as it was always a case of just one more, just another one. I was so drawn into the suspense and needed to know what was going to happen.

The ending was a real “wow” ending. Not something I was expecting to happen at all (although perhaps I should have) and a very imaginative way to round up one particular character’s role. I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this imaginative and intense story.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 4/4

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone
Orenda 9781912374151 pbk May 2018

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