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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0340694939, Paperback)The Bone Yard is a dystopian thriller set in Edinburgh during the harsh winter of 2021. Rogue detective Quintilian Dalrymple, a former bureaucrat who left his high-ranking job to work for the parks service and solve mysteries on the side, sets about catching a serial killer with a peculiar signature. The killer bites out the victim's throat, cuts out the tongue, removes the genitals, and leaves in the cavity a cassette of the electric blues of Clapton, Hendrix, and others. In the allegedly crime-free Edinburgh city-state (which is expressly modeled on Plato's Republic, but in practice resembles every cliché of pre-1990 Eastern Bloc regimes), blues music is contraband. So are casual sex, monogamy, fattening foods, all drugs, and more-than-weekly showers. So why does the killer leave cryptic messages via electric blues?
Johnston won Britain's John Creasey Award for best first crime novel with 1999's Body Politic, and in The Bone Yard he possibly takes for granted that his readers already know and care about Dalrymple and his cohorts. Character development is scanty, so the playful rivalry between Dalrymple and sidekick Davie, for example, is mostly conveyed through edginess and four-letter words. Their terseness is juxtaposed against the obfuscatory language of the council, the "iron Boy Scouts" who gradually become implicated in the four grisly murders and a related scheme. The serial murderer's infelicitous musical clues lead Dalrymple to discover a dangerous drug remarkably like Viagra, which is being manufactured illegally within the Edinburgh city-state. Dalrymple travels to a zoo, a slaughterhouse, and a foul fishing boat to find the lab, which may be tied to the mysterious "Bone Yard" that the council shrouds in top-level security and secrecy. In addition, a nubile exotic dancer meets an untimely end, leading the two detectives and Dalrymple's tough ex-girlfriend Katharine to the Three Graces sex club, which caters to Edinburgh's rich and burgeoning tourist population. Readers trolling for mysteries set in exciting locales may thus be gratified by The Bone Yard, which is a blend of 1984 (though with inferior prose), The China Syndrome, and Showgirls. The plot moves briskly through dark terrain, both physically and philosophically. It's got a relentlessly downbeat tenor, but Johnston intricately ties together the threads of the four murder victims and their psychopathic killer, and the secret of the Bone Yard. --Kathi Inman Berens
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:35 -0400)
Private investigator Quintilian Dalrymple and his sidekick Davie know there's a connection between the blues cassettes implanted in the dead bodies and the "small blue tablet that causes a massive increase in alertness and sexual potency," and they believe that the answer lies in the Bone Yard, if ever they can figure out what the Bone Yard is.--Jacket.
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