St. Martin's, Mar 2001, 24.95, 400 pp.
In 2025, compared with the anarchy that surrounds it, Edinburgh remains a calm island of no crime. Though rationing is a way of life and entertainment only comes in the form of a festival for tourists, the clever City Council occupies the restless residents with a weekly lottery. How can individuals not play when a five-minute shower a day is a potential prize.
However, a missing person interrupts the lottery nirvana when Kennedy, a winner, simply vanishes. Rumors spread quickly, and the concerned Edinburgh leadership hires private investigator Quint Dalrymple to quickly learn the truth. Before he can solve that case, murdered bodies begin to appear in the Leith, leaving the City Council in a panic, a city in fear, and a pressured Quint trying to stop a body count from growing any further.
Award winning Paul Johnston's world is radically different from that of today. Global warming has reached extreme levels turning the climate into the Big Heat. Everything seems rationed and centrally controlled. Still Quint remains an interesting character with his obsession for the blues standing out in this drab world. Mr. Johnston brings in his full cast from the previous two books, but instead of the welcome return of old friends, this sends a clever story line spinning into chaos greater than his surrounding countryside. Doomsday fanatics will relish WATER OF DEATH and its predecessors for its descriptive look at an apparently dying society trying to survive. However, readers of other science fiction sub-genres will struggle with the plot's anarchy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner