Book Review: Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

From the PR: “A little lie … a seismic secret … and the cracks are beginning to show…

In a re-imagined 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 finished Fault Lines right at the end of last year and it’s still been occupying space in my head; it’s so bloody captivating and stuffed with lots of those ‘ahhhaaa’ moments.

I really like the premise for Fault Lines  – a new Volcanic island off the coast of Edinburgh birthed following the opening of a tectonic plate – and Doug Johnstone uses it as the dramatic centerpiece of one hell of a gripping thriller.

Not to mention the use of the Inch as a metaphor of what can happen when things rumbling away in secret explode into the light and rips things apart, as Surtsey finds out after the discovery of Tom’s body. Things only gets worse for her – someone knows she was there. Not only that but they seem to know an awful lot more about her secrets and begin to ratchet up both the pressure and the body count as Fault Lines tears along at a gripping pace as those revelations are thrown into the light and she’s left to deal with the fall out from them all the while trying to discover who killed Tom – something for which she is the main suspect.

Fault Lines is a tightly plotted little gem with more twists and turns in its 200-or-so pages than many twice its length. Doug Johnston also manages to pack in a richly portrayed group of characters, a compelling emotional story for Surtsey and her family and a good amount of humour and charm. Not a singly blood word is wasted and there are moments of genuine ‘what the hell?!’ and as for the final couple of twists; brilliant. Did not see the contents of that letter coming!

Fault Lines by Doug Johnston is a compelling thriller with a unique and imaginative premise and impressive plot that’s definitely worth a read.

My thanks, again, to Karen at Orenda Books for my copy.

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