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Water of Death


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From the author of the award-winning BODY POLITIC comes a third original, intriguing thriller and sardonic political satire featuring the subversive investigator Quintilian Dalrymple.

About the Author

Paul Johnston was born and grew up in Scotland. He now spends much of his time on a small Greek island, but regularly visits the UK. WATER OF DEATH is his third novel to feature the popular Quintilian Dalrymple.


A rogue crime fighter in a failed utopian Edinburgh in the year 2025 is such a strong concept that some of its original glow remains in this third entry in the series. But flaws that niggled in the first two books (Body Politic; The Bone Yard) painfully heavy-handed similes on virtually every page; a never-ending barrage of attitude between the hero and his supervisors have now become dangerous distractions. It takes more work than it should to follow Quint Dalrymple, as the former cop-turned-freelance chief investigator for the elite ruling Council tries to solve a series of murders during an extremely hot summer. Edinburgh's ordinary citizens, suffering through a severe water shortage while the city's reservoirs flow lavishly for the foreign tourists who support the local economy, are dying from poisoned whiskey. The first victim is the winner of a new lottery designed to take people's minds off how badly the independence movement called the Enlightenment formed after the drug wars and economic disasters of the years 2001 through 2004 has faltered. Quint's former lover is a prime suspect in the poisonings, so the anti-establishment investigator is even more conflicted than usual as he goes about his work. Despite the distractions, Dalrymple who loves blues music and 20th-century noir mysteries remains an arresting presence, and Johnston often uses his blighted futuristic landscape to great ironic advantage (a key scene takes place in what used to be Craiglockhart War Hospital, where WWI shellshock victims Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen were treated). (Apr. 4) FYI: Ian Rankin raved about Body Politic and Johnston returns the favor here by having Dalrymple reading Rankin's Black and Blue, just removed from the proscribed list when "the Council lifted the ban on pre-Enlightenment Scottish crime fiction." Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Praise for WATER OF DEATH'The mixture of sardonic, occasionally vicious wit, the brilliant concept of this city of the future, and a strong plot are the mixture as before and very tasty it is' Birmingham PostA hugely entertaining fantasy ... engagingly imagined - The Times on BODY POLITICThink of Plato's Republic with a body count - The Sunday Times on BODY POLITIC'Johnston's future city is a dark place, even in the Big Heat of post-global warming summer. Over three novels featuring Quint Dalrymple, he has charted the political and social development of a totalitarian state struggling to find a balance. But this is never a dry treatise, for Johnston's vision is shot through with the bleakest of black humour, never losing sight of the humanity of his characters. This series is getting better all the time' Val McDermid, Manchester Evening News'An acclaimed crime series...Johnston brings an intelligent perspective to the dark excitement of the thriller' Nicholas Blincoe, ObserverAn intricate web ... Johnston is a Fawkes among plotters ... Quint's career looks set to blossom - Observer on BODY POLITICA powerful, fantastical thriller - Night and Day (The Mail on Sunday) on THE BONE YAR'Both prescient and illuminating'Ian Rankin, Daily Telegraph

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