Splinter in the Blood is one of those books that opens with a scene that can’t help but hook you. A police officer at the scene of a crime, the shooting of another officer, who – instead of calling it in – is destroying the evidence.
The victim is DCI Greg Carver. And the officer destroying the evidence his partner, Ruth Lake. Why, it’s not clear – just as it’s not clear if Ruth is a dirty cop or a good one making bad decisions.
She seems good, I have to say, dogged and determined to figure out who shot Carver – and finish the case they were both already working on, the Thorn Killer, a serial killer loose on the streets of Liverpool. But there is always, all the way through the book (well until the climax) that nagging doubt.
I say loose for the Thorn Killer but that is probably the wrong word for someone who is so controlled and calculating, taking their victims and keeping them for weeks, tattooing them with strange symbols before leaving their bodies for the police to find. The case has driven Greg to drink too much and broken his marriage apart. It seems set to do just as much harm to Ruth.
I enjoyed watching as Ruth put the pieces of both cases together, especially as I wasn’t sure if she was a good guy or a bad guy half the time. I just wish that she had done it a bit more quickly because this book was a slow, slow, build and maybe a little too slow for me. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good – it was. I just wish it had been good in about a 100 less pages. This is a debut novel, though, so I don’t want to give Dyer too hard a time. Instead, I will focus on the positives, of which there are many.
First, it’s really well written. The characters are wonderfully drawn and come to life on the pages. Ruth is front and centre for most of it, but everyone seems real, right down to the desk officers. Next, there’s the plot, which is clever and well thought out. There are plenty of red herrings and twists and turns from the first page, just what I look for in a book of this genre. And finally, there is the ending, which I didn’t see coming but which seemed obvious when it came.
So, all in all, a jolly good read and one I can recommend – just be prepared to be reading it for a while!
About the book (note this gives a lot away so you might not want to read it if you plan on reading the book)…
Sergeant Ruth Lake and DCI Greg Carver are on the hunt for a serial killer. But what they don’t realise is that the killer is hunting them, too.
The victims are found fully-dressed and carefully arranged, every inch of their bodies covered in intricate, cryptic tattoos. The media have dubbed it the work of the Thorn Killer, thanks to the primitive thorn method used to etch his victims. Lake and Carver have been tracking the killer for months, and a breakthrough feels imminent. But then the killer gets personal: the latest victim, a student found only a week earlier, is staged to look like Carver’s wife.
Pushed over the edge by this latest twist, Carver spirals into a self-destructive cycle of alcohol abuse. Now he lies near death, and the unreadable Lake stands over him with a gun. Did she shoot her boss? If not, why is she removing evidence from his apartment, staging a fake scene?
When Carver wakes from a coma, the night of the shooting is a blank, yet he is haunted by terrifying flashbacks and hallucinations. Then he begins to see lights and colours around people. Auras, the neurologist tells him – his brain, starved of oxygen after his trauma finding ways around damaged tissue, forging new connections. But Carver believes they give him insights into people’s unspoken feelings, and that Ruth is hiding something from him.
Ruth, too, is convinced that Carver is holding back; that remembers more than he admits. Does he know what she did? How can she hope to unravel the half-truths, hidden meanings, secrets and lies at the centre of this investigation when she has lied and lied herself?
All the while, the Thorn Killer is still at large, watching their every move – and plotting his next. Will Carver and Ruth pull together to stop him before he strikes again? Or will they be held captive by their own web of lies?
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Publication date: 1st March, 2018
Number of pages: 448
Genre: Crime fiction, police procedural
Rating; 4 out of 5
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.