Crime Fiction Mark Bailey Paul Johnston Reviews

Paul Johnston – Skeleton Blues (2016)

Paul Johnston – Skeleton Blues

Hardback: 244 pages (January 2016)

Publisher: Severn House

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8578-4 (hardback)

Cover of "Skeleton Blues" by Paul Johnston
Cover of “Skeleton Blues” by Paul Johnston

This is the seventh novel in the series of novels featuring Quint Dalrymple.

It is Spring 2034. The United Kingdom, along most of the world, was torn apart by civil wars and criminal gangs in the early years of the twenty-first century. Edinburgh in the last free election in 2003 voted in the Enlightenment Party (a small grouping of university Professors) who with a mind set influenced by Plato guaranteed basic human rights such as work, food and housing but removed most elements of choice from peoples lives. Crime has been pushed underground where it is fed in part by the envy of the tourists who come for the year-round festival with legalised gambling, prostitution and drugs for the tourists.

The weather is balmy and most un-Scottish. A referendum is imminent on whether or not to join a reconstituted Scotland. A tourist is found strangled in the apartment of a citizen and, as usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the dirty work of the Council of City Guardians. Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case when an explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body with the prime suspect nowhere to be found. Can Quint and Davie put a stop to the killings before the city erupts into open violence – are the leaders of the other Scottish states planning to take over Edinburgh or is the source of unrest much closer to home?

Again, you have an engaging plot that goes along at a rate of knots and you can understand the motivation of the characters whilst not agreeing with them – the key driving force is the camaraderie between Davie (his sidekick in effect) and Quint which has been built on throughout the series.

This is a good addition to the series and once again I would definitely like to see where Quint Dalrymple goes from here.