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by Paul Johnston
St. Martin's Press, August 1999
272 pages
ISBN: 0312202792

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This is the first book by this author, and the first in a series set in Edinburgh. The protagonist Quintilian "Quint" Dalrymple is a maverick in the style of Harry Bosch, Rebus, Frost and others in the genre. This book is full of twists and surprises.

Edinburgh, 2020, there have been no murders in the city for five years until now, when the body of an auxiliary is found in a bathroom. The signs are there that an old serial killer known as the Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) man is back stalking victims. However, Quint knows this can't be true, as he holds the key to this puzzle, which took place several years ago, before he was demoted to the Parks Auxiliary.

When a second murder takes place, Quint is asked by the Guardian Council to investigate these crimes. However, with the help of Davie, another auxiliary, who has the same rebellious tendencies as Quint, joins in the hunt. Then Quint is hired to find the missing brother of Katherine, another victim of the Guardians rule, who had served time on Cramond Island for being involved with dissidents. The book moves along at a nice clip. As the investigations proceed, it seems that both cases start to intertwine and bring Quint into conflict with the Senior Guardian (who has secrets of her own to hide in this case).

With leads going nowhere, Quint has to pull out all the stops to figure out what is really going on. As a result of his actions several key players start hinting that by rattling cages, Quint could ruin the economy of Edinburgh, not to mention the careers of several guardians who are involved in shady dealings. Then, after several attempts to question certain Greek persons involved in the deals folding into nothingness, Quint discovers the truth behind everything and in the end, nearly loses his life.

Filled with characters, setting that comes to life, and events that really could take place, Body Politic, is more than just a mystery, but a book that makes a person think about the future. There are four more books in this series, so I have to ration them out, as this is a writer to watch out for.

Reviewed by Steven M. Sill, October 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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