***** 5 STARS
You can run from your past but you can never hide from yourself… When John Callum arrives on the wild and desolate Faroe Islands, he vows to sever all ties with his previous life. He desperately wants to make a new start, and is surprised by how quickly he is welcomed into the close-knit community. But still, the terrifying, debilitating nightmares just won’t stop. Then the solitude is shattered by an almost unheard of crime on the islands: murder. A specialist team of detectives arrives from Denmark to help the local police, who seem completely ill-equipped for an investigation of this scale. But as tensions rise, and the community closes rank to protect its own, John has to watch his back.
But far more disquieting than that, John’s nightmares have taken an even more disturbing turn, and he can’t be certain about the one thing he needs to know above all else. Whether he is the killer…
The Last Refuge is a change in direction for author Craig Robertson who is known for his Glasgow based crime series featuring Police Photographer Tony Winter and DS Rachel Narey, to a crime novel set in Faroe Islands which can be found to the northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway, the eighteen islands that make up the Faroe Islands are isolated, windswept and seem a good place for the main character John Callum to leave behind his demons and nightmares which pursue him. This change of setting has not done anything to change the way in which the author Craig Robertson can turn out a truly stunning crime novel, in which the Faroe Islands themselves are used like a major character in the story rather than just a setting.
The best way to describe the Last Refuge is to imagine if Tartan Noir meet Nordic Noir you begin to get a general picture of what you are going to get. A little warning when you begin this novel, then put everything else aside and be willing to immerse yourself in the storyline as it is fast paced, well plotted and with excellent characters that you will not want to put down for anything or anybody. What really stands out is the raw brooding power which runs through the storyline from start to finish, John Callum, the central character is a man on the edge, He’s filled with demons, haunted by past events so he relocates to the Faroes to start again, He’s a lost soul seeking resolution and absolution. From the opening pages where a plane hits turbulence you know you are for a bumpy ride. That combined with the stark and unforgiving landscape, the long winters, little daylight and inhabitants with Viking ancestry, swirling mists and language barriers which delivers a backdrop that underpins conflict and emotional turmoil in the central characters. In conclusion if you have not yet given The Last Refuge a read then I recommend that you do before long, you won’t be disappointed.
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (22 May 2014)