Set in the familiar backdrop of bonnie Scotland, Douglas-Home has ingeniously tapped into the country’s intrinsic qualities to create a crime novel full of suspense.
The journalist turned author juxtaposes the hustle of Edinburgh city centre with the eerily quiet hills of the Highlands, cleverly setting the perfect scene for crimes to be committed, and for felons to disappear unnoticed.
With real-life locations at its heart – including Waverely train station, the scene of a fatal stabbing – Douglas-Home’s novel is all the more convincing.
Telling the story of Kate and Flora Tolmie, two fiery redheads whose mother disappeared 23 years ago in northern France, it is an almighty blow to Kate when her sister mysteriously takes off.
The ill-fated Kate enlists the help of Cal McGill, an oceanographer, expert on the winds and tides and sea detective, who finds the case leads him dangerously close to home.
Douglas-Home’s writing seems quite frenetic at first as he develops seemingly unrelated threads from chapter to chapter. But this is exactly what keeps the pages turning – slowly closing the gap and weaving the tales together, the complex story gains serious momentum.
The minor characters lack a certain depth, but the main personalities are convincing, as are their plights. Cal McGill is easily the most interesting – despite being a misanthrope who deals with the brutality of his job clinically, he displays great empathy which adds to his credibility.
If you are looking to settle down with, a gripping ‘whodunnit’ that is laced with psychological tension, Douglas-Home is an author who can pull the wool over the reader’s eyes until the very end. This book demands concentration and patience, but patience is most certainly a virtue and the eff ort is richly rewarded.
The Driftwood Girls, by Mark Douglas-Home, published by Penguin, £8.99.