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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Refuge
John Callum arrives on the Faroe Islands in order to find anonymity. To the northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway, the eighteen islands which comprise the Faroe Islands are isolated, windswept and seem a good place for Callum to leave behind the demons which pursue him. Formerly a teacher in Glasgow, Callum has constant nightmares about an...
Published 5 months ago by S Riaz

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rather depressing novel with an uninspiring main character for ...
A rather depressing novel with an uninspiring main character for whom one ends up feeling little sympathy. Don't read this if you're wanting an inspiring and uplifting read.
Published 3 months ago by tometmon


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Refuge, 22 May 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Last Refuge (Kindle Edition)
John Callum arrives on the Faroe Islands in order to find anonymity. To the northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway, the eighteen islands which comprise the Faroe Islands are isolated, windswept and seem a good place for Callum to leave behind the demons which pursue him. Formerly a teacher in Glasgow, Callum has constant nightmares about an incident which happened there. No longer able to teach, he is willing to undertake any job and manages to find work in a fish factory and a home in a deserted little shack, belonging to his employer.

Before long, Callum finds that he is uneasily settling into his new surroundings. Some accept his statement that he wants to settle there; others are more questioning, or even resentful. Although befriended by local man, Tummas Barthel and French photographer, Serge Gottori, others are not so friendly. When Callum meets attractive young artist, Karis Lisberg, he attracts the attention of her aggressive ex-boyfriend, Aron Dam, and the displeasure of her pastor father. Plus, there is another troublemaker, Toki, at work. The rural idyll is not turning out quite the way he expected, with warnings and threats being left outside his new home. When a man is stabbed to death, Callum – the outsider, the foreigner, the stranger –and a man who was seen arguing with the victim shortly before his death, is the obvious suspect.

This is a truly stunning crime novel, in which the Faroe Islands themselves are almost a character in the story. With long winters, little daylight and inhabitants with Viking ancestry and a language he does not understand, this is very much stepping into the unknown for Callum. Everyone knows everyone else and there is nowhere to hide. Two Danish investigators, Detective Inspector Silas Nymann and Sergeant Kim Kielstrup, arrive from Copenhagan, along with forensic expert Nicoline Munk; and their attention is centred on Callum. A man who longs for sleep and yet fears it; who has no idea himself whether or not he is guilty of the crime he is accused of. Only the local Inspector, Broddi Tunheim, seems willing to consider that there might be another suspect in the case, but will he be able to prove Callum’s innocence?

If you begin this novel, then put everything else aside and be willing to immerse yourself in the storyline. Fast paced, well plotted and with excellent characters, this is a joy for crime lovers. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning in every way., 27 May 2014
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Last Refuge (Kindle Edition)
This delivers at every level and I loved it. Taught plot, tight narrative, plausible characters, intelligent dialogue and a pace that leaves you literally breathless...

There's a visceral feel to the book; a raw brooding power which runs through the storyline from start to finish. Callum, the central character, is a man on the edge, figuratively and literally. He's filled with demons, haunted by past events he relocates to the Faroes to start again. He's a lost soul seeking resolution and absolution. From the opening pages, where a plane hits turbulence, we know we're in for a bumpy ride. The stark and unforgiving landscape, swirling mists and language barriers deliver a backdrop of constraint and contrast. This superb imagery underpins conflict and emotional turmoil in the central characters. Accused of murder and unable to recollect events, Callum takes the reader on an edge of the seat journey as he pieces the facts together. This is Tartan Nordic noir with a twist; tense and very clever plotting filled with suspense, balanced by the humour and insight of a Columbo like Inspector Tunheim.

Filled with moral complexity, dark secrets and a protagonist to root for, I could feel my heart rate accelerating as the story moved to a superb climax. A stunning exploration of loss, retribution, love and redemption.

My thanks to Netgalley for an advance review copy from the publisher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I fell in love with the setting, the characters, and the story, 22 May 2014
By 
Cathy G. Cole (Phoenix, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Refuge (Hardcover)
The Last Refuge grabbed me from the first page and wouldn't let go until the very end. The setting is absolute perfection. Few people have even heard of the Faroe Islands. (I am one of the lucky ones; after seeing a stunningly beautiful photograph of towering green cliffs and cascading waterfalls, I learned that it was taken on one of the eighteen islands that make up the archipelago.) Craig Robertson puts readers right in the middle of this incredible landscape and shares not only its beauty, wildlife and remoteness, but the towns, the people, and the customs and language as well. My reaction to the setting was visceral and immediate.

But setting alone does not make a book. To it, Robertson adds a strong cast of characters. John Callum is a man filled with secrets, and although readers quickly learn how horrifying his nightmares are and how quick-tempered he can be, they somehow know that he is a man who can be trusted, a man who can be a friend. Robertson makes them want to shake Callum until he tells them why he ran away from Scotland-- and it's a secret that takes a long time to unveil.

Karis, the woman with whom Callum falls in love, is alluring and mercurial. She has secrets, too. Many of the secondary characters do, and Callum even has a difficult time figuring out the local inspector, Broddi Tunheim, who refuses to go quietly into that good night once the Danish police have made their entrance. These three characters-- and others-- shine brightly in this tightly woven plot that has so many twists and turns.

Yes indeed-- The Last Refuge is a perfect blend of story, character and setting, each of which illuminate and strengthen the others. Sometimes bleak and desolate, it's an enthralling look deep into a man's soul and deep into a fascinating place. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tartan noir meets Scandinavian noir in a slow burn thriller, 22 May 2014
This review is from: The Last Refuge (Hardcover)
John Callum is in the Faroe Islands to make a new start. Plagued by nightmares from the life he's left behind in Glasgow, he slowly settles into the close-knit community - taking a job at a salmon farm and living in a basic shack belonging to the farm's manager, the religious Martin Hojgaard and his good-hearted wife, Silja. He even starts a relationship with passionate, volatile local artist Karis Lisberg. For a while, life is looking good.

Then he wakes up in the harbour after a heavy night's drinking and finds a knife in his pocket - a knife covered in someone else's blood. As John tries to piece together what happened the night before, he learns that a body has been found. With the locals drawing ranks against him and a freshly arrived Danish police team regarding John as their number one suspect, John's biggest worry is that they might actually be right ...

Tartan Noir meets Scandinavian Noir in Craig Robertson's standalone crime novel whose slow burn plot makes excellent use of its atmospheric setting and its protagonist's mysterious past. However, the reveal of the killer was a bit of a let-down and didn't quite make sense in the context of what we're told while some of John's actions are incredibly reckless (even when considered in the context of the discoveries we make about his past). I'm a fan of Robertson's writing - he has a crisp way with description that gives you a sense of both place and violence and kept me turning the pages while there are also some funny lines. However, if this book sparks a series, I'm not honestly sure that I'd read on, although I would always check out Robertson's other work.

Despite his first person voice, Callum is a mystery for most of the book. His nightmares are violent but it takes a while for the truth to come out and when it did, I did raise my eyebrows a bit. More convincing is his passionate relationship with the dynamic, mercurial Karis who has secrets of her own - I could believe in the mutual attraction between the two as each has a reckless aspect to their personality that would draw the other. The star of the book though is the Faroe Islands themselves, which Robertson does full justice to - beautiful, wild and closed off, it made me want to book a trip there.

ARC from publisher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars that isn’t going to be easy – especially when he is implicated in the archipelago’s ..., 30 July 2014
This review is from: The Last Refuge (Hardcover)
Craig is an experienced hand, with four other titles under his belt. They were all set in Scotland but for this one he steps away from his comfort zone, if you will, for the wind-tossed Faroe Isles. And his experience shows for this is an assured mystery with a a strong narrative voice.
I have to confess I had no idea where the Faroe Isles were until a quick peek at my Atlas – they’re between Norway and Iceland to save you the trouble.
It is a carefully-plotted mystery people with strong characters and a vivid sense of place. You can actually taste the salt-tinged air of these islands as you read Craig’s prose.
At its heart is a Glaswegian, John Callum, who arrives on the islands trying to escape his past. Naturally, that isn’t going to be easy – especially when he is implicated in the archipelago’s first murder in twenty years.
You feel the people he meets along the way are real, so good is the writing. I especially liked the local policeman, a quiet, careful man with the mind of a Scandinavian Columbo. I’d like to see him in a novel of his own sometime. I also enjoyed a female CSI who arrived from the mainland to help probe the murder.
But, like the other books here, its success or failure depends on whether we buy into the main character – and we do. Callum is so very human. Fallible, hopeful, regretful. We care about him. No matter what he’s done.
For his first stand alone novel, Robertson has come up with a cracker.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first experience of murder and Mystery., 15 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Last Refuge (Kindle Edition)
I am not usually a reader of Murder and intrigue but was hooked on this book from start to finish. It was also good to find out about the Faroes as I new nothing about them before reading this book. Highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different from his other books. Always extremely well written ..., 6 July 2014
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This review is from: The Last Refuge (Hardcover)
Different from his other books. Always extremely well written & readable but if any criticism I would say more a male book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Craig's best book so far, 22 May 2014
By 
BookAddictShaun (England, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Last Refuge (Kindle Edition)
I received a copy of this book for free in return for my review

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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from Mr Robertson!!!, 26 July 2014
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This review is from: The Last Refuge (Kindle Edition)
I love all his books, he just seems to get better with every book. I look forward to his next one. A+++++
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic compelling story, 1 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Last Refuge (Kindle Edition)
Not often you pick a book that captures you straight away, well this story is so well written it certainly got me hooked. I just couldn't put the book down, much to the annoyance of the missus. Just great, thanks.
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The Last Refuge
The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson (Hardcover - 22 May 2014)
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