The Survival of Thomas Ford by John A A Logan
Gritty noir from north of the border
Thomas Ford is haunted. Okay, not in the literal sense.
Forced off a narrow road into a Scottish Loch, Thomas and his wife had mere moments to escape from their car as it filled with water. What haunts Thomas when he awakes from an almost seven week coma is he couldn’t get his wife out of the car. That, and the strange, bird-like profile of the other driver.
I found this a compelling read, wanting to know what happened next and reading it almost straight through without stopping. It’s a dark and broody novel, so if you’re looking for unicorns and puppies, I’d look elsewhere. How to pigeonhole it? Well, it’s part mystery, part drama as Thomas feels compelled to find the bird-like driver but doesn’t necessarily have to look that hard; it’s a cautionary ‘be careful what you wish for’ tale, but one with a punch. It feels like a lot of Noir I’m reading just now.
John has a superb eye for characterisation, creating believable people with real lives – one of the hardest tricks for a lot of authors and one he manages with ease. Having spent time in Scotland, I can almost recognise some of them. You don’t need to have been there to enjoy this book, though, as I think he’s conveyed the sense of place and time as well as his characters.
I already have said this is probably the best book I’ve read all year and after a few weeks’ reflection, I can’t say that opinion has changed. I admit to liking a lot of Scottish authors, but then I like a lot of French, Spanish, American, English, Japanese [add your favourite here], too, so I don’t think bias has anything to do with it. It’s not going to break the bank either, at £1.98/$3.11, although it’s only available on Kindle at the moment.
If you like your books realistic (well, mostly) and as a window into a world you’ve never seen, this is a great example. I’m off to read it again.