Water of Death
Paul Johnston  
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Publisher:New English Library
Purchased On:2006-03-19
Date Added:2006-03-19
Summary: The classic noir private eye is someone whose life orbits around the violent and macabre--normality defies their raison d'être. Such is life or Quintilian Dalrymple, the blues-haunted hero of Paul Johnston's dystopian future, Water of Death.
By 2025, Britain has split into independent city-states, with Edinburgh as the "perfect city." Everything from electricity to sex is rationed and a zero-crime level has been achieved at the cost of individualism. "Quint" is a quintessential PI, whose existence is justified by sudden violence and relegated to the dregs when the effects of global warming hit Edinburgh. With water rationed, citizens are mindlessly devoted to two things: the year-round tourist festival and the weekly lottery (Grand Prize: a five-minute shower per week for a month). The mundane peace is shattered with the death of a demoted "auxiliary", or policeman, found in the Water of Leith. The only clue is a bottle of lethal contraband whisky and, as the body count rises, Quint must deal with duplicity, corruption and a ruthless conspiracy.
Johnston beautifully mixes Noir and Orwellian politics with the bonus of sly social satire: "... the Council set up a compulsory lottery last year, turning greed in to a virtue and most citizens into deluded fortune hunters." Stylish and imaginative, it's a captivating mystery with a dash of science fiction. --Danny Graydon