Review: The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson (5/5)

Monday, 19 May 2014

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…

Wow. I don't even know where to start with attempting to review this book. It's without a doubt Craig's best book yet and I am feeling a little privileged at getting to be one of the first people to read it thanks to the publisher via Net Galley! I have to admit when I read the blurb it excited me but left me feeling a bit apprehensive, I absolutely love Craig's books set in Scotland and so I was wondering whether I would enjoy this standalone set on the Faroe Islands as much. Well I did love it as much, and then some.


The book opens with our main character John Callum carrying a bloodied knife, completely disorientated he has no idea how he came across the knife or who the blood belongs to. This opening scene was very different to his previous books and also very atmospheric. The reader is just as confused as John and I just wanted to keep on reading to find out more. We discover that John has came to the island to escape from his mysterious past, he manages to find a job and a home from his boss, Martin Hojgaard but has to move to an old shack when his boss hears him screaming something in his nightmares. Martin won't elaborate on what he heard which again just adds to the mystery and makes you want to read on.

I found the character names a bit hard to get used to just because they are so unusual. This is definitely the first book I've read with such a unique set of character names. After a while I did get used to them however. To say John is unwelcome in Torshavn would be an understatement. People are wondering why he is trying to build a life for himself in their small town but he does make a friend in Serge Gotteri (for the first part of the book at least...) and also has a relationship of sorts with Karis. John then faces the jealous wrath of Aron Dam who along with his brother Nils is quite an intimidating character on the island.

I loved the setting of the Faroe Islands. I really felt as if I was there myself, I Googled pictures of the island to help familiarise myself with the places that were being described by the author. It certainly does have a unique set of beliefs and cultures and I feel that the author captured these incredibly well, he has certainly written both a believable and authentic story. It's made me want to read up more about the Islands and their history as there were snippets of it here which left me feeling very intrigued.

As for the story, well it was fantastic. From start to finish I was gripped. If you've read the blurb then you'll know a murder takes place on the island and can assume from the final part that perhaps John may be responsible? What I loved most about the book is the reader had absolutely no idea just who was responsible. Pretty much all of my theories were proved incorrect and the last few chapters of the book especially I couldn't read quick enough. I love a book which keeps you guessing and this one definitely did that.

I can't recommend this book highly enough for people looking for a book with a fantastic mystery element, great characterisation and a fantastic setting. This is definitely one of the best books I have read lately and I hope it is a massive success for Craig. It's always a brave decision when an author steps away from what they are used to but I can definitely say it has worked for Craig as it has resulted in what I feel is his best work yet. I can't wait to see what is to come next from this author.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy

I loved the setting of this book and really enjoyed this interview with Craig over on CrimeFictionLover.com about why you shouldn't set your book on the Faroe Islands: http://www.crimefictionlover.com/2014/05/never-set-your-book-in-the-faroe-islands/

Buy this book from Amazon

 

 

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