As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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by Mullholland Books, 21 July 2016. ISBN: 978-1-444-78561-6 (TPB)
It’s impossible not to admire forensic psychologist Alice Quentin,
though the prickly exterior she cultivates to counteract her baby-doll
appearance makes her hard to get close to.
Symmetry is the fifth in Kate
Rhodes’s series featuring this unusual protagonist, and is a little different
from the others in that it draws on a real-life medical scenario for its theme.
The Tainted Blood scandal is to some extent still ongoing, and relates to a
notorious blood product known as Factor 8, which infected many haemophiliac
patients with devastating conditions including HIV and hepatitis C. The
government has never fully accepted responsibility, and the sufferers remain
inadequately compensated – if, indeed, any compensation could possibly be
Rhodes’s narrative, Alice Quentin is newly appointed as deputy director of a
leading forensic psychology organisation, and has not yet found her feet in her
new role when she is called in as consultant to a police investigation. An
eminent haematologist has been kidnapped, and a pint of her blood left in a
prominent place. Her young son has narrowly escaped his captors, but is now
terrified, mute and under guard. Alice’s task is to gain the boy’s trust and
draw information out of him to enable the police to find his mother, as well as
reviewing other aspects of the case and advising the investigating team on the
best avenues to pursue.
murders follow, with blood as a linking factor, and eventually Alice makes the
connection with the Tainted Blood investigation.
case is played out against an emotionally charged background. Not only does
Alice form an uncomfortably strong connection with Mikey, the missing
haematologist’s son; she is in an uneasy personal relationship with the senior
investigating officer, DCI Don Burns, and has come to know and like many of his
team from a previous case.
a grim tale, and not always easy to read, especially the sections which
interleave Alice’s first-person narrative. The second viewpoint is the
abductor, whose tragic motives elicit a certain sympathy, but whose methods are
has clearly researched her subject; an endnote reveals a personal interest in
the Tainted Blood scandal. She also has a deft hand with character; her men all
have a sensitive streak, her women are feisty and her children engaging, but
each in his or her unique way. Returning characters like Don Burns, Alice’s
friend Lola and her brother Will develop new layers with each reappearance, and
even the most minor bit-part players have a real personalities.
Alice Quentin series is rapidly becoming one to look out for. I highly recommend
this one, and look forward to the next.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Kate Rhodes was born in London. She has a PhD in modern American
literature and has taught English at British and American universities. She
spent several years working in the southern states of America, first in Texas,
then at a liberal arts college in Florida. Kate’s first collection of poems Reversal was published in 2005, her
second collection, The Alice Trap
was published in 2008. The Guardian described her poems as “pared back and
fast-moving, the short lines full of an energetic lightness of touch”. Kate has
been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship, and her poems have been shortlisted and
won prizes in a number of competitions including the Bridport Prize and the
Forward Prize. Kate is currently writing full-time and lives in Cambridge with
her husband Dave Pescod, a writer and film maker. Crossbones Yard was
Kate’s first crime novel. Blood Symmetry is the fifth in this
highly acclaimed series.
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.