The Blood Tree by
hbk out June 00
Published by Hodder Stoughton
For those who are unfamiliar with Paul Johnstone's work, the setting is in the future--2026. The UK has split up, and is now a series of city states. Edinburgh is run on platonic principles, as set down in Plato's Republic. There are three grades of people-the Guardians, who govern the city, the Auxillaries, who form the police and local government officials, and the populace. Qintillian Dalrymple- Quint to his friends- is an investigator employed by the Guardians on tricky cases. A former auxillary, and son of former Guardians, he is a maverick who says what he thinks and does what he feels is right, regardless of the consequences.
He is investigating a tricky case, where Auxillaries have been murdered in vicious circumstances. When he finds that top secret files have been stolen he begins to look for a connection. But before he can make much headway, he is kidnapped and taken to democratic Glasgow, where he is put in a top hotel, and given designer clothes to wear It appears that the same kind of killings have been occurring in Glasgow, and he has been brought in to question a suspect who will only talk to him. He finds a lead on the stolen files, and it leads to corruption in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
This was a first class read. It was a nice touch to shift locale to Glasgow, and to set it as a vibrant, fashionable place, in comparison with dour, poverty stricken Edinburgh. Brave too, as Mr. Johnston is an Edinburghian. Quint is a great character, a Marlowe for the 21st century. Given that this has a great plot, credible characters, I thoroughly recommend this book which I read at one sitting. A caveat, however. I f you haven't read any of the previous books, do so before you read this, starting with The Body Politic. I say this because, although it is a stand alone novel it helps to know what went before particularly considering Quint's relationship with other characters: Davie, his unofficial partner, and his lover, Katherine.