Paul JohnstonPaul Johnston
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The Bone Yard


The dung really started to fly on Hogmanay, 2021. The last day of the last month is supposed to be a time for celebrating the good things that happened in the old year and for anticipating the joys of the new one. In Edinburgh that means getting slaughtered. Not even the Council of City Guardians has managed to put a stop to that part of our heritage. But this time someone took getting slaughtered literally. It didn't come as a complete surprise. Ever since the new wave of ultra-keen young guardians took over in 2020, there's been an undercurrent of tension in the "perfect city". Everything's been tightened up so much under the new rulers. They call them the "iron boyscouts" in the ordinary citizens' bars when they reckon there's no informer around, or when they're too pissed to care about being sent down the mines for a month. There's too much supervision of everyone's activities, too many regulations, too much control. And as the city's schoolchildren find out in their sex education classes, if you bottle everything up, you're sure to become a pervert. Or a dissident. Or both.

I would never turn down a murder investigation. The problem was that this case didn't start off being one of those. Or rather, it did. But I just didn't realise.
Christ, I wish I had. Whatever way you look at it, I could never have guessed I'd end up in the Bone Yard. I'd trade my entire collection of blues tapes - W. C. Handy and Big Bill Broonzy included - to have missed that gig.

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