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Thriller set on PAROS

9th May 2021

The Lizard by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, thriller set on Paros.

Thriller set on PAROS

Alistair Haston is a young, unassuming man. He heads to Greece, hot on the heels of his ex girlfriend, Ellie, who saw him as a people pleaser. On the ferry to Paros, he gets in with a group of young hedonists (and remember, this is the 1980s when Greece was a hedonist’s pleasure palace), he passes out (yes they drink too much among other things) and he finds that he has had vital items removed from his baggage – including his passport.

As the book opens, the author takes his readers to the deck of the boat in glorious sunshine, he captures the feel of place and time with a deft hand, and demonstrates a writing style that is really engaging.

Ricky was one of the group on the boat and they happen to meet again. This time Ricky is apparently house sitting for a rich German, purportedly an artist called Heinrich. This, however, is no ordinary house-sitting job. Alistair is soon recruiting tourists to pose for Heinrich (for which Alistair is paid handsomely) but the real mission is to find bed buddies for the German. The intense dalliances are recorded with a camcorder and Alistair starts to access his inner sleaze. He once again passes out through indulgence and discovers that Ricky and Heinrich have disappeared off the face of the earth. Then, it seems that all kinds of large value items – like the villa in which he finds himself and a yacht – are registered in his – Alistair’s – name, and of course he is liable.  Then a person is reported murdered. As the body count mounts, Alistair has to flee and prove his innocence. The book is largely about the adventures that beset him on this quest, his ducking and diving to get to the truth. He is soon wind surfing the 38km in the dark of night to nearby Naxos.

The book starts off really well and is so engaging and redolent of life in the 1980s. It then becomes a boys’ own adventure story – with sordid sexual encounters piling in – that didn’t really hold my interest through to the end. There was just too much rushing hither and thither, which some readers will, I am sure, find breathlessly engaging in a pulp noir kind of way (and includes a severed head).

This is now the second book on the trot that I have read where the author chooses to use a foreign language to add authenticity to the narrative, and again it is generally poorly executed. It’s German this time. It is essential that an author gets a native speaker-proofreader to vet the language. It looks so sloppy when there are errors: “..was macht der Jungs Haston in dieser Zeit”  (I don’t know where to start with unpicking that sentence)  “..dieses Villa..” (it should be diese Villa) and the commas were having a field day. Enough said. Adding foreign language text and words seems to be a booming phenomenon at the moment but it detracts enormously if there is overkill and if execution is slapdash.

The setting of Greece is certainly vibrant and the book is a good read for literary tourism. I rather like the cover which certainly was a factor in picking up this novel!

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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