Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Scottish detectives

I came home exhausted last Friday & lounged about all evening reading Val McDermid's The Distant Echo. It's excellent: her writing has just gotten better and better, the first novels are a bit clunky in retrospect but this and her last are both superb.

Then I read the first two novels in the Enlightenment series by Paul Johnston, Body Politic and The Bone Yard. (Thanks to Donna at Sarah Weinman's site for the Scottish crime recommendations, BTW.) I love the idea of these, but I'm ambivalent about them in actuality. Will read the next two and see what I think. The one thing I really can't stand is the fact that there's an awkward simile on every page! Sample first sentence: "The weather set its trap with all the cunning and skill of a poacher who invites his extended family round for a New Year's banquet thenr ealises his cupboard is bare." It all depends how you feel about this sort of jokey style, I guess...


  1. Jenny, I'd definitely persist with the rest of the Quint books--The first two are fine, but I think Johnston really hits his stride with the fourth (THE BLOOD TREE) which gets into some more pressing social issues and really makes use of the futuristic setting.

    Having said that, I prefer Johnston's Greek books, A DEEPER SHADE OF BLUE and THE LAST RED DEATH and am way excited for the new one, THE GOLDEN SILENCE. Of course I'm also slightly influenced by the fact that I think Johnston's cool in a scary intellectual sort of way.

  2. OK, this is weird, I thought I'd posted this so if it shows up twice, forgive me....

    Anyway, Jenny, I'd definitely persist with the series--the first two are all right but the fourth (THE BLOOD TREE) and fifth (THE HOUSE OF DUST) are excellent and my favorites. Much more depth, less jokey style and more serious issues of genetic engineering and the like addressed, so the futuristic flavor is really more upfront. Much as I like Quint and the gang, I do like Johnston's Greek books better, and am really looking forward to the new one (THE GOLDEN SILENCE) which is just out.

    He's also cool in person, in a sort of scary intellectual way that I often like.

  3. Thanks, Sarah. Yes, I have a strong sense that this is a writer I'm extremely interested in, and will pursue further, in spite of these few reservations about those first two. Will obtain the Greek ones ASAP. I've got a lot of overlapping interests with this guy--genetic engineering, platonic societies, in fact the novel I've just written is also set in an alternate-universe Edinburgh governed on the principles of Adam Smith and David Hume! Thanks again to your blog (and Donna) for the tip...