David Shaw Mackenzie - The Interpretations (3 stars)

Gripping mystery novel lacks leading character voice

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David Shaw Mackenzie - The Interpretations

(Sandstone)

Told across two decades, The Interpretations explores circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Tom Kingsmill, a runner who starts an organised race across Dalmore's new suspension bridge but never reaches the other side. Local police write the incident off as another suicide to add to the bridge's already tragic history, but Tom's closest friends, Mike and Jim, are convinced he's alive.

The novel has no central protagonist and chapters focus on a variety of individual male characters who reveal the secrets of this supposedly sleepy town and the parts each has played, both aware and unaware, in Tom's fate. The characters are slightly clichéd – the disgruntled local hack, the parish minister threatened by change, the simple landlord providing some light comic relief – but the plot is excellently paced as clues to the disappearance are tantalisingly drip-fed throughout the novel.

The Interpretations is a gripping mystery, but the lack of a dominant voice amongst the characters and the unnecessary tangents into local history create a disjointed narrative.

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