Friday, 24 August 2001
Paul Johnston: The Bone Yard (1998)
Review number: 922
The bleak world of the Edinburgh of the future under a regime supposedly based on the ideas of Plato's Republic has already been explored through the eyes of maverick blues fanatic and private investigator Quintilian Dalrymple in Body Politic. The Bone Yard, set a couple of years later, is the story of another of his investigations, into the horrific murder and mutilation of a young man who had asked for protection. This quickly leads to the realisation that there are serious problems at a senior level in the regime, as it looks like someone is conniving at the development of a new and dangerous drug, set to sweep the city.
It takes some time for The Bone Yard to grip the reader, but its bleak story and background - Ian Rankin meets George Orwell - eventually do, and then don't let go. While not particularly original either as mystery or science fiction, it leaves the feeling that it is an impressive novel.
It is interesting that Johnston's vision of a fragmented Britain of the near future is very similar to that of his fellow Scot, Ken MacLeod. Maybe the idea has been inspired by Scottish devolution!