Doug Johnstone – Crash Land (3 stars)

Doug Johnstone – Crash Land

Sparse Orkney landscape is the backdrop for a rich thriller

Opening in Kirkwall airport just before Christmas, Crash Land plunges straight into the action. Art student Finn Sullivan meets enigmatic Maddie Pierce at the bar and their disastrous flight has massive consequences for the pair, as well as the Orkney community.

With an underlying misogyny, Finn isn't a particularly likeable protagonist but he is so naive and ordinary that the downward spiral of his life is completely relatable. You have to fight the urge to look away as he is swiftly drawn into a complex web of lies. While there is a real fear of the truth being exposed, there is a lack of threat in sections of the novel. The ambiguous nature of some of the crimes creates suspense but the ultimate lack of revelation feels frustrating.

The dramatic scenes are rich thriller material, tightly written with cinematic fight sequences where lives hang in the balance. The sparse Orkney landscape and tight-knit community lend a different dimension to the novel, depicting a land where the law seems to hold less weight and there is simultaneously nowhere to hide and space to disappear.

Out now.

Doug Johnstone

Scottish author Doug Johnstone discusses his latest novel, Crash Land, a thriller set amidst the stark Orkney landscape. Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His novels include The Ossians, Gone Again and The Dead Beat. His 2016 book, The Jump was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for…

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