Cover Image: Impolitic Corpses

Impolitic Corpses

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Member Reviews

A unique and witty crime thriller with a clever and unusual setting

In the year 2038, Scotland is beginning to blossom in its third year as an independent democracy after years of government tyranny. Ex-Private Investigator Quint Darymple is asked by his old friend, Detective Davie Oliphant, to investigate a bizarre strangling in Leith, where the assailant was reported to be dressed as a ‘fish-tree’. As Quint begins to look into this unusual crime, he is then suddenly asked by the head of the government to look into the sudden disappearance of Angus MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, from inside a locked room, with the only clue being a severed finger left inside. As Quint delves deeper, it becomes clear that the two cases are linked and as the bodies begin piling up, he begins to uncover some dark secrets that stretch back years into Scotland’s past and may pose a very real danger for its future.

This was a funny and engaging crime thriller with a fascinating setting and a quick-witted, likeable protagonist. The setting of a futuristic, dystopian Scotland that has only recently become a reconstituted state after years of totalitarian government was very original and well-written, and instantly arouses the reader’s curiosity. Quint himself is a great character, with a sharp mind and a dry sense of humour and whilst his relationships with his friends and family initially come across as a little insincere, it becomes clear later on in the story how deeply he cares for his wife Sophia and his children Maisie and Heck. The plot is as quick as Quint’s wit and paces along with plenty of twists and turns, with betrayals and switching of sides all around and very few dull moments.

Unfortunately, I did find that having not read any of the previous books in this series made all the government and police departments with their various heads and members a little difficult to get my head around at first. The storytelling is complex and some of the political shifts and alliances can come across as a little confusing at times. There are a lot of different characters to keep track of, and you need to focus carefully as you’re reading so as to not get lost in who is who. Additionally, the ending was quite abrupt and is a huge cliffhanger, which was a little frustrating.

In conclusion this was a witty and original thriller with plenty of twists and laughs peppered throughout. I would be interested in reading more by this author, if only to find out what happened next, but the complicated nature of the story means I would probably have to re-read this novel first!


Elite Reviewing Group received a copy of this boo
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From GoodReads:
I did wonder how this would go now that Edinburgh is now part of a united Scotland again.
I need not have feared - still a cracking read.
Thoroughly entertaining, complex  and twisting storyline. Rattles along at a hundred miles an hour.
Great list of characters (many from previous books in series)
Quint is still a fine, fine detective - still on top of his game.
I have loved this series for years - can't wait for another.
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My first response on finishing Impolitic Corpses is “Wow!” My second is “I want to read the sequel now!” What an adventure this has been. Though this is the eighth book in the series of Quint Dalrymple and his life in the various realities of Scotland after the world’s nations have collapsed, I was able to step into the action immediately and absorb, gradually, the structure of his world. And what a crazy place it is. Essentially seeming to be a world of city states some of which are attempting to re-form nations.

Now to the plot. It is November 2038. Quint is asked by the head of police and the head of the Scottish government to help investigate the disappearance of Angus McDonald, the Lord of the Isles and, more importantly, find and get him back. McDonald is an important player in the energy market, a vital area as many countries are setting up new commercial alliances with energy among the most vital. Quint will work with his long-time partner Davie of ScotPol. They will have to give up their current puzzler— the attack of the treefish man that left another man half strangled.

So perhaps you have some feeling for what this story may be like. Well it keeps on going and continually adds twists, turns and new characters and plot points. Along the way, there are also pieces of memory that reveal telling moments from Quint’s past that affect his life in the present.

All in all a complex plot where there is thought and action and many interesting characters. As I said above, I now anxiously await the next book.

Recommended for all who enjoy “alternate earth” type books, mysteries with action.

4.5 rounded to 5

A copy of this book was provided by Severn House Publishers through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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It's the first book I read in this series and won't surely be the last because I found this one gripping and entertaining.
I liked the amazing world building and the well written cast of characters.
The mystery is solid and kept me guessing.
I found the mix of alternate story, the mystery and the characters working well together and the results is fascinating.
As it ends with a huge cliff hanger I can't wait to read the next instalment.
Many thanks to Severn House and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Futuristic thriller featuring cynical investigator Quint Dalrymple, the eighth in the series. The year is 2038 and apparently much work for Quint in a reunified Scotland. Fast moving with a complex and intricate plot, twists and turns aplenty, political intrigue and menacing motivatations.
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This is a great series featuring investigator Quint Dalrymple set in a alternative future, low tech, Edinburgh and Scotland by Paul Johnston. A fragile capitalist democracy has replaced the totalitarian government of Edinburgh but the Scottish unity is paper thin with conflict and different groups in charge in other parts of Scotland. It is 2038, Quint has become famous writing of his past experiences and cases although he has left out parts of his history, a history that is to come back and haunt him in the present. This has made him well off, but he misses working with Davie, Detective Leader in a ScotPol headed by the Scottish Police Director, Hel Hyslop, the lover of Andrew Duart, the presiding minister of the Scottish government. Davie involves Quint in a strange case of a treefish attempting to murder Jack Nicol by strangulation in Leith, a treefish emulating one painted by Hieronymous Bosch in The Temptation of Saint Anthony.

However, Daunt and Hyslop take him and Davie off the case to look into the disappearance of the Scottish Conservative opposition leader, Angus Macdonald, the Lord of the Isles, a key player in Scotland's strategically important oil and gas companies, industries that are great contributors to the country's wealth. A finger found in Macdonald's room is a cause of great concern to Quint, a hint of a past he has kept secret, and it seems there is something personal in this case directed at him. Macdonald's disappearance appears to have some connection with the Jack Nicol and treefish case, as numerous leads point to the existence of Bosch cults and Bosch's other painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights and figures from the picture. Indeed, before long they have a murder victim posed in a manner that replicates a part of the painting. Quint uncovers political intrigue, abduction, greedy money grabbing politicians, elements from Nor-England and abroad interested in the oil and gas companies, a villainous teratologist, and there are those who seek personal vengeance.

Johnston ends this book on a huge cliffhanger, one of my least favourite ways to conclude a story. This does, of course, set up the next book in the series, and makes me keen to read it as soon as possible. It can be hard to keep up with the complex storytelling, there are many references to the political shifts and changes in the past, and the present unity is a difficult act to maintain, and politicians being politicians, they are not exactly exemplary role models that can be trusted, echoing much of our contemporary realities. This addition is a compulsive and gripping read, Johnston's Edinburgh and Scotland is an ongoing source of interest, one where almost anything can happen and very little can be relied on, leaving Quint surviving on his wits and his ability to negotiate his way through the obstacles in his path. Great book. Many thanks to Severn House for an ARC.
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In this eighth offering by Paul Johnston in the Quint Dalrymple series it is November 2038 and Scotland is two years into its latest try at a governing body, this time a democracy governed by a parliament. Things are changing quickly now that it is a capitalist society. Unfortunately, as is often the case were great amounts of money are up for grabs, there is corruption everywhere. Scotland is wealthy in gas and oil and that's just the commodity other countries want. Quint has become even more famous now that he's writing novels about his experiences during the past struggles of Scotland as an independent nation. Detective Leader Davie Oliphant of ScotPol asks Quint to help him solve an attempted murder where the perpetrator was dressed in a costume representing a tree-fish. From there things just get really weird.

I've followed the adventures of Quint for a long time and this book was just as interesting as all the others have been. I think these stories are written more as mysteries/fantasies (I've seen them described as science fiction) because most of this world is low tech, even below basic in some areas because one thing that happened in the past was that the government destroyed anything having to do with technology so they could more easily control the population. This 2038 Scotland hasn't caught back up yet. It's my opinion that anyone wanting to begin reading this series with this 8th book would find it quite a challenge. There have been several manifestations of "government" in Scotland since it went independent of the UK and there has been a very large cast of characters in the books. I often find myself wishing I had kept a list or chart of people, governments and organizations from book one onward to remind me of why something or someone seems familiar to me. Yes, Johnston helps fill in some of the blanks, but it was still possible for me to spend time trying to remember who/what/where and when. I like the narrative voice of Quint even though he does seem to come up with solutions out of the air. 

There is a huge cliffhanger ending to this book. As a hook it will definitely have you wondering what will happen in the next book....if you enjoyed this one. If you are just sitting on the fence, or you didn't especially like this story, chances are it will just irritate and frustrate you.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for an e-galley of this novel.
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This is the eighth novel in the series of novels featuring Quint Dalrymple.

It is November 2038 and Scotland has been reunified - Edinburgh's thirty-year experiment with supposedly benevolent totalitarianism is over. Despite now being a novelist and retired from the Police, Quint Dalrymple still gets called upon for the investigation of strange cases. An attempted strangling of a young man in Leith by an assailant wearing a bizarre tree-fish costume definitely falls into that category.

Before he can make headway on that case, he is asked by to look into the strange disappearance of the Lord of the Isles - Angus Macdonald (Leader of the opposition in Parliament). He vanished from inside his locked bedroom while his valet was sitting outside with a severed finger hidden in the room.
The discovery of body arranged in a disturbingly macabre pose links the two cases together and starts to provide worrying links back into some of the darker parts of his past.

As stated in reviews of earlier books in the series, this is a mix of science fiction and crime fiction in that it is set in the future but there is very limited technology which is entirely lower-level than what most people have access to today with the computers in particular seeming quaintly archaic.
Once again you can start the series here as there is enough backstory sprinkled throughout the first few chapters to give you both an overview of the milieu and a view into the mind-set and motivation of Quint without it dominating the plot.

The plot as usual is engaging and goes at a rate of knots with you understanding the motivation of the characters whilst not agreeing with them. The camaraderie between Davie (his sidekick in effect) and Quint is still there despite their separation on a day-to-day basis before the action starts. 

Once again, the denouement does make sense given what has gone before and sets up the scene for future books.

Overall, this is a good addition to the series and I still definitely like to see where Quint Dalrymple goes from here.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy of Impolitic Corpses, the eighth novel set in a dystopian Edinburgh to feature investigator Quintilian Dalrymple.

Edinburgh 2038 and Scotland has returned to democracy with Edinburgh restored as the capital of the federalist state. Financially things are improved but there’s still plenty of work for an investigator like Quint. He is asked by his friend, Detective Leader Davie Oliphant to assist on a strange attempted murder, Jack Nicol was strangled by a tree fish but before he can start he is diverted to investigate the disappearance of the Lord of the Isles, prominent businessman and leader of the opposition.

I thoroughly enjoyed Impolitic Corpses which is an exciting thriller set in a future but recognisable world. I have been reading this series since the beginning, more years ago than I care to count, so a new addition is always welcome and this doesn’t disappoint. The plot is complicated, full of politics, corruption, twists and distrust, but the motives behind it all are universal. I found it gripping and fairly easy to follow.

The plot revolves around the politics of this fractured world. The new Scotland is a fledgling democracy made up of representatives of the various regions which all have very different ideologies and loyalties. A “united” Scotland, however, is not the norm in this brave new world with most former countries fractured into fiefdoms and fighting amongst themselves. Partisan politics taken to a logical conclusion? Of course, Mr Johnston was not so prescient when he started the series, blaming this fracturing on drugs and gang warfare, but now it’s eerie. The new Scotland has brought prosperity to the citizens of Edinburgh but it’s also brought greed and capitalism, nothing new to us but after thirty years of communism the contrast is sharp.

The novel is told in the first person by Quint Dalrymple. He has a sharp, cynical take on life although it’s rather blunted by his new freedom in this novel as he doesn’t have so much to kick against. Still, he’s not short of targets as the novel progresses.

Impolitic Corpses is a good read which I have no hesitation in recommending.
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