Friday, 9 May 2014

Book review : Last Refuge - Craig Robertson

Having already read four of Craig Robertson's novels - Random, Snapshot, Cold Grave and Witness The Dead - I thought I knew exactly what to expect from his latest offering, Last Refuge : gritty, fast-paced, tense drama set on the violent streets of Glasgow with criminal gangs, serial killers and ruthless hardnuts aplenty.

I was therefore surprised to see that Last Refuge is set in a completely different location, 400 miles further north in the dramatic backdrop of the remote, wind-battered Faroe Islands. Pretty much the only bloodshed that these islanders see is the traditional bloody whalehunt and there has only been one murder in the past twenty five years.

Enter John Callum, newly arrived from Scotland, wanting a fresh start and seemingly running away from something in his past that he doesn't want to dwell on but that his hellish nightmares won't let him forget. It would be apt to say that you can take the man out of Glasgow but you can't take the Glasgow out of the man. After a heavy night on the strong local booze, John wakes up, wet and cold on the fish slabs where he presumably passed out, with a pounding headache and a blood-coated knife in his pocket. Unfortunately, he has no recollection of what actually happened.

The islanders are automatically wary of outsiders anyway and, when the victim is discovered, John seems like the obvious, and indeed only, suspect. When the Danish police come in to investigate, will they prove his innocence or his guilt ?

The writing is very atmospheric - I could almost feel the biting wind whistling through draughty windows, bringing in the cold and damp, as I read - but I did find that the first half of the book dragged a bit, maybe to reflect the slower pace of life on the Faroe Islands. The second half picked up in speed and tension though and had me racing through, eager to find out what actually happened. It turns out that my instinct was right - I had it all nailed quite early on, even without the help of the Danish forensics expert !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £12.99

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (22 May 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1471127737
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471127731
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 2.1 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : The Judas Scar - Amanda Jennings

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