Recent Events

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

‘Blood Mist’ by Mark Roberts

Published by Head of Zeus,
13 August 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-78408288-8 (HB)

Think of Liverpool, and the kind of crime that comes to mind is a pitched battle between Anfield and Goodison fans, or thieving at the docks. One hopes that entire families ritually slaughtered in their beds, driving snow and a psychotic mass murderer locked up in a high-security hospital are very much the stuff of fiction.

It’s all the stuff of the first in Dagger-nominated Mark Roberts’s new Red River City series, featuring DCI Eve Clay, a woman with an obscure past and an enviable track record. In the opening chapter Eve is called out in the middle of a blizzard to a house in a middle-class suburb, where three generations of a family have been brutally murdered – and that’s only the beginning.

More horrific incidents follow, and a strange phone call makes Eve suspect the murderer is seeking her personal attention; a few years earlier she put away the Baptist, a serial killer with a twisted quasi-religious mission, and it soon becomes clear that the latest murders are in some way connected to him.

Mark Roberts builds his case from a series of scenes and vignettes which horrify and fascinate in equal measure. As Eve and her team pick a convoluted path through a complex code of clues, the link with Eve’s early life in care grows stronger, as do her fears for her own beloved husband and toddler son.

There’s a strongly drawn cast of characters, both good and evil: fiercely intelligent and analytical policemen and desperate family members of victims, evil shining from the eyes of deranged killers.  And behind it all lies a kind of anti-religious imagery which is reflected and intensified by natural conditions evocatively brought to life: extreme weather, bringing about colours in the sky which reflect the Baptist’s chilling declarations.

From that shocking opening chapter right through to the appalling climax in a network of tunnels under Liverpool’s Edge Hill region, the tension builds relentlessly. It’s not a comfortable read by any means; I found I had to put the book down from time to time to get my breath back and clear my mind of the depths of depravity it depicts. But it’s compelling all the same; it was never long before I had to pick it up again.

Eve Clay is a satisfying protagonist, and there is more than a hint towards the end that the Baptist isn’t done with her, that the series will include a substantial element of heroine versus nemesis. If this is the author’s intention, he has made a striking and memorable start.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Mark Roberts was born and raised in Liverpool and was educated at St. Francis Xavier's College. He was a teacher for twenty years and for the last ten years has worked as a special school teacher. He received a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for best new play of the year. The Sixth Soul was his first novel for adults.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment