Friday, 22 February 2002

Paul Johnston: The Blood Tree (2000)

Edition: New English Library, 2000
Review number: 1074

The fourth of Johnson's crime novels set in an Edinburgh which is a dictatorship in a fragmented Scotland of the future has a slightly expanded horizon. The crimes, a particularly horrific pair of murders linked to a robbery from the Scottish Parliament building, seem to have connections to Glasgow, a democratic state which is basically the West Germany to Edinburgh's East.

The background is very well done once again, with the customary echoes of real totalitarian cultures of the last few decades. The mystery is difficult, cleverly constructed yet allowing a thriller style narrative. The characters continue to be convincing, particularly the relationships between central character Quint, his friend Davie and his lover Katherine.

This is a series which could (and hopefully, will) continue for many more instalments before Johnston's inventiveness begins to fail; and I hope that its positioning at the interface of the crime and science fiction genres will not be a barrier to its being considered an important work in both.

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