By the fifth line of Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s debut novel, I was totally invested in the plot of The Lizard.
Lulled into thinking the protagonist a relatable character – he is a student from the University of St Andrews suffering from an aching heart – Alistair Haston is a seemingly ordinary young man seeking to win back his girlfriend by following her out to Greece for the summer.
Taking the reader from the cobbled streets of Fife to the balmy climes of the Greek islands, the scene is set for heady tales of summer romance. But in no time at all Bruce-Lockhart flips the plot on its head, planting Alistair in an unfathomable predicament; he is behind bars for murder.
No sooner has Alistair arrived in Greece than his world falls from beneath his feet as he is propelled into a violent, depraved world of sex, drugs and corruption, embroiled in dealings with an Australian who is ‘all reptile’.
Bruce-Lockhart leaves little to the imagination, with his narrative both intricate and fast-paced, divulging every graphic detail of criminal activity. It is an intensely atmospheric read, and while the obscenity of Alistair’s new murky existence is deplorable, one can’t help but will the young man on in his quest to prove his innocence.
There is little point in trying to predict Bruce-Lockhart’s next move – just when Alistair sees a glimmer of hope, the rug is pulled from beneath him. Though I found this unpredictability enthralling, others may question the credibility of his never-ending tribulations.
The Lizard is a contemporary thriller, and is a bit Marmite: the hedonistic revelry, sex scenes and obscenities will no doubt put some readers off , and in parts they did seem a little gratuitous; but a jawdropping storyline will have other readers speeding through the book at breakneck pace.
It is an incredibly gripping tale that is awakened by Bruce-Lockhart’s vivid imagination and descriptions of Greece’s stifling summers and turquoise waters. Even when the final page had been turned, the last line threw one last curveball. I await the sequel with anticipation.
The Lizard, by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, published by Muswell Press, £12.99.