Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone's Fault Lines is an original and psychological ride

Book Review by Heather McDaid | 31 May 2018
Book title: Fault Lines
Author: Doug Johnstone

A tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, also known as the Inch. Tremors are an everyday occurrence, and Scots take it in their stride. Here we meet Surtsey, introduced to the reader in a less-than-ideal situation – she’s on a clandestine trip to the volcanic island to meet her lover/boss. Instead of a hook-up in the shadows, she finds his dead body.

Surtsey’s life is unravelling in many ways – her mother is close to death, her boyfriend is (as yet) unaware of her affair, her friends are being drawn into her web of lies to protect herself. She isn’t guilty, but as her truth unfurls, she certainly looks that way.  

Johnstone has created a deeply atmospheric eco-system on the coast of Edinburgh, bringing the fictional Inch to life in stunning clarity. It’s almost its own character, so well-drawn is it on the page. It lurks as a backdrop as he masterfully increases the tension in drips. A phone ping sends shivers through his protagonist, and jolts the reader from any perceived comfort at every appearance. That's the level to which Fault Lines seeps under the skin – it's in the fine details, cranking it up in little increments before leaping wholeheartedly to the unexpected.

Intriguing from concept to conclusion, Fault Lines is as original and creative a psychological ride as they come. And who can say no to a murder mystery with an added dose of lava?

Released by Orenda Books, 22 May