7 March 2019.
But every now and then we stumble across an unfamiliar author whose work seems to come from a different place. I'd hardly read a chapter or two of In the Blood before I realized that Ruth Mancini was writing from the heart.
Her protagonist, Sarah Kellerman, is a criminal defence lawyer. Not only that, she is also the single mum of Ben, a severely disabled five-year-old. Sarah knows all about the juggling act that most working mothers perform every day: the broken nights, the rushed supermarket trips, the problems of finding the right childcare and alleviating the doubts of work colleagues. So when she is asked to prepare a defence for another single mother who stands accused of trying to kill her own child, she is more than willing to pull out a few stops.
Ellie, the accused mother, isn't an easy person to help. She lives in a run-down flat in an area awash with drugs and violence, denies vehemently that she is responsible for any of the signs that baby Finn has been abused, but refuses to back up her assertions with anything resembling evidence. She claims that the baby's father is supportive, but also claims legal aid to pay her costs. Above all, there is no doubt that she was present when Finn's dialysis line was pulled out, leaving him to bleed almost to death.
Sarah is faced with the almost insuperable task of refuting a mountain of evidence which seems to point to Ellie's guilt, and makes one discovery after another which render the task even harder. At the same time she is battling colleagues who think she is not pulling her weight when she insists on leaving work on time and opting out of night-time duty solicitor call-outs in order to care for Ben. When she meets a man who seems to understand, and who actually proves helpful with her son, it feels like a gift from above – until work and personal life collide.
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