Bone Yard

Paul Johnston, Author
Paul Johnston, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-20280-4
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In his Creasy Award-winning debut novel, Body Politic, Johnston introduced a near-future Edinburgh--a city-state dystopia modeled on Plato's Republic. In this follow-up novel, Johnston's Edinburgh is almost perfectly realized, while his maverick sleuth, Quintilian Dalrymple, is as at home here as Marlowe in L.A. or Spenser in Boston.This heavily regimented society (its citizenry enjoys no TV, no literature except approved classics and no renegade music such as rock or blues) ironically relies on the decadent entertainment it provides the international tourist trade. By using Orwellian controls, the City Guardians have created an almost crime-free environment. For the first time in two years, on New Year's Eve 2021, a murderer strikes in Edinburgh, slashing the throat of Roddie Aitken, a young Supply Directorate delivery man. Aitken had sought Dalrymple's help a few days earlier because a hooded man with a knife chased him home late one night. It gets even more personal when Dalrymple assumes control of the investigation and has to report to the guardians, who need his expertise as much as they despise his attitude. And what is the mysterious ""Bone Yard"" the guardians are talking about? Johnston transforms Edinburgh into a nightmarish and malignant stage, on which his blues-loving, wisecracking hero walks the walk and talks the talk perfectly. Brilliantly offbeat metaphors and fascinating characters reinforce the promise implicit in the author's first novel. (Aug.)
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