THE LIZARD By Dugald Bruce-Lockhart (Muswell Press)
With winter beginning to bite here in Canberra, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s The Lizard is a great way to break lockdown and take a fictional holiday to a much warmer location.
The Lizard opens in the summer of 1988 with heartbroken British university student Alistair Haston making his way to the Greek Islands in pursuit of his lost love Ellie. His plans get disrupted, however, following an incident on a ferry from Athens to the islands. Suddenly penniless and without a passport, Haston is happy to take up a job offer with the charismatic Ricky on the island of Paros. Once there he becomes caught up in a sun-drenched world of sex, drugs and alcohol and something a bit more sinister. It is all going fine until the bodies turn up and Haston finds himself on the run from the police and some very nasty individuals.
The Lizard starts a little slowly, but once underway it is a briskly paced thriller that zips its way through a series of twists and surprises. The Greek Islands are lovingly evoked, and the details of Haston’s efforts to escape the police are suspenseful and ring true. Towards the end the action quickens up nicely and the bodycount swiftly rises over the last few chapters. There is also a neat final page twist.
In all, I found The Lizard to be an entertaining diversion from the reality of a world in lockdown. I did not really warm to Haston until the final chapters, but several of the supporting characters are quite engaging, especially the very practical Amara. Bruce-Lockhart seems to do a good job of capturing the sights, smells and feel of the Greek Islands in holiday time, but his depiction of the local police force is not likely to be well received by the Greek authorities. It does, however, make for a very exciting tale that is quickly consumed and easily enjoyed.
Three and a half to four stars out of five!
The Lizard was released in Australia and the United Kingdom in late April 2020.