Paul Johnston was born in Edinburgh in 1957, the son of successful thriller writer Ronald Johnston. He attended Edinburgh’s prestigious Fettes college (which he blew up in his first novel), in part so that he could study ancient Greek. He went on to read ancient and modern Greek at the University of Oxford. After leaving University in 1982, he worked in the shipping industry for a few years, moving to Greece in 1987 to escape the rat-race. While in Greece, he worked as a journalist and part-time English teacher.
He starting writing in Greece, finishing two novels before his first was published, in 1997. Body Politic was a crime novel set in 21st-century Edinburgh, and won a CWA John-Creasey Memorial Dagger award. In the novel, Edinburgh is now an independent city-state run by a Council of City Guardians, a group of University Professors, who have imposed a low-crime, low-tech society ruthlessly supported by the City Guard.
Johnston has written five novels featuring Quint Dalrymple, the hero of Body Politic. In 2002 he shifted gears, moving from future Edinburgh to contemporary Greece with the Alex-Mavros series, starting with A Deeper Shade of Blue. In 1995 he moved to Edinburgh to work on a master’s degree in English, but he found the academic research too distracting from novel writing.
His most recent novel is the violent thriller Maps of Hell. Johnston regularly attends literary festivals, and shares his time between Scotland and Greece.