Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone. In this tale the earth beneath our feet plays a big part in the crime scenario. It is always in the background, whilst the story is happening, and perhaps it also influences the outcome of events, even if it is just via the visceral connection the main character has with her surroundings.
About the Author
Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish CrimeNovel of the Year. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.
He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and been Writer in Residence at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, reviews books for the Big Issue, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.
About the book
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…
Although this is a fictional scenario of an island in Scotland caused by a volcanic eruption, it is more a case of bringing the historical and geological context of Scotland and volcanoes back with a modern day scenario.
Surtsey finds herself drawn into the middle of a murder mystery when her lover is found dead on a remote island only certain people have access to. To be more specific it looks like she might have had something to do with it, and it doesn’t help that her first instinct is to lie, hide the truth and get defensive. Not exactly the behaviour of an innocent woman.
Surtsey feels connected to the land, earth and country. At times she thinks the land she walks on is speaking to her, especially the tremors and the earthquakes. Perhaps in a way she even thinks it is warning her. Warning her about the web being drawn around her, a web of deceit and a web filled with corpses. Or is Surtsey playing a her own game of murder, betrayal and duplicity?
Johnstone writes a compelling crime with a fascinating connection between the main character and the living breathing being called earth. It’s as if they are walking hand-in-hand and communicating with each other or is the earth merely showing us who the more powerful player is, in this game of survival.
The subtle underlying message is a warning, that if we continue to ignore the obvious repercussions of our greedy and ignorant behaviour, we may one day be consumed by the earth we are contaminating. In a way the author draws a parallel between the instinctual human behaviour patterns, especially in regards to violence and destruction, and the companies who put money before survival of humankind.
In this tale the earth beneath our feet plays a big part in the crime scenario. It is always in the background, whilst the story is happening, and perhaps it also influences the outcome of events, even if it is just via the visceral connection the main character has with her surroundings.
Fault Lines is an intriguing crime story, which is strengthened by the imagery and vivid descriptions. Johnstone makes you feel the earth move under your feet, convinces the reader that the tremors are reaching up and travelling through your body. You may never feel the same way about certain areas in Scotland again.
Publisher Orenda Books orendabooks.co.uk