Doug Johnstone, May 2014, 272 pages, Faber & Faber, ISBN: 0571308856
Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)
Just when you think an author can't possibly get any better – he does. I love this book! It stands head and shoulders above Johnstone's earlier work and I am rapidly running out of superlatives to describe him with. Everything about novel, from the eye-catching front cover, to the intriguing first sentence, to the steady stream of awesome music that runs through it, has you drawn in and focused. You can’t escape from the world that Johnstone has crafted. Not that you would want to.
Martha has a new job. She is student journalist and has managed to get some work experience on her Dad's old paper. Except people don't know her Dad is her Dad and, as he killed himself two weeks ago, they won't be working together. Martha is set to work on the obituary column and even before she has a chance to settle in the phone rings. The caller is highly distressed and shoots himself while talking to her. Not a good way to start your new job. What else could go wrong? THE DEAD BEAT follows Martha's progress over the next few days as she struggles to deal with her experiences in the present as well as come to terms with her past.
One of the many reasons I love Johnstone's work is the way he messes with your head. True to form, this one does not disappoint and I imagine it will be quite a while before I am able to return to crossing North Bridge in my usual, casual manner. If you like a story that keeps coming back to you, long after you have found it a place on your bookshelf, then you are going to love this book.
Extremely Highly Recommended.
Amanda Gillies, May 2014.