Murder mystery in the Orkneys

  • Book: Crash Land
  • Location: Orkney Islands
  • Author: Doug Johnstone

Review Author: Rowingrabbit



3.5 stars

Finn Sullivan has spent the last few days visiting his grandmother Ingrid on the Orkney Islands. They’re close & it was good to catch up but now all he wants is to get back to uni, finish his course work & figure out what to do about his girlfriend.

He’s sitting in Kirkwall Airport when he first sees her. Maddie is a beautiful, older woman who shares Finn’s desire to leave the Orkneys. So when their flight is delayed they pass the time getting to know each other at the bar. Finally the weather clears & everyone clampers aboard. The plane is just a little puddle jumper & passengers & crew total 11 people. Remember that number.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say they don’t make it off the island. It’s the beginning of a bizarre chain of violent events that will change Finn’s life forever. He’s a rather unworldly 21 year old & quickly bedazzled by the sophisticated Maddie. But it’s clear early on she’s a woman of many secrets. As the story progresses we, like Finn, aren’t sure what to make of her. At best, Maddie is a woman with good reason to escape her life. At worst, she’s a manipulative liar.

It’s a fast paced read that crams a lot of action into 265 pages. Some of the events & Finn’s actions in particular will require that you can suspend your disbelief but hey, this is fiction. What worked best for me was the atmospheric setting provided by descriptions of this beautiful place. The wind, water & creeping fog shape the land & lives of its residents. Many of the ancient Neolithic sites such as the Tomb of the Eagles & Ring of Brodgar are mentioned along with some history of how the islands were settled.

I was lucky enough to visit the Orkneys several years ago & it’s a fascinating place. From St. Magnus Cathedral to the countless standing stones, there’s a palpable sense of stepping back in time & I enjoyed the chance to revisit those memories.

My sincere thanks to the lovely Tina at Tripfiction for sending this book my way.

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