Tuesday, 31 May 2011

'A Matter of Blood' - Sarah Pinborough

I first saw A Matter of Blood while browsing in Forbidden Planet and thought it had quite a catchy blurb that. It promises a dark and gritty crime novel with a paranormal twist and set in London. London is a great setting for any novel and I have not reviewed any crime novel yet so thought it was about time. Buy button clicked!

Any fictional cop worthy of his name will come with a lot of personal problems and Cass Jones does not disappoint here. He drinks, takes drugs, is an adulterer and takes bribes, basically just makes Harry Bosch look like a choir boy. Cass even cheated on his wife with his brother's wife, we hopefully wont see him take the moral high ground anytime soon like those CSI fellas.

There is a serial killer lose in London and his fourth victim has just been discovered. The victims are all women, all found naked, none of them abused and they all have 'Nothing is sacred' written in blood on their chests. There are no real leads so far so it wont be an easy case, the police have contacted an profiler to help them at least narrow down the suspect pool from everyone. Cass has just been assigned this case as a colleague became suddenly sick and needed hospital care. Cass was already assigned to a case where to young boys had been gunned down in a drive by shooting. It looks like the intended target was a well known crime boss who happened to be in that cafe.

Cass starts investigating both crimes when all of a sudden his brother Christian is reported to have killed his wife and young son and then committed suicide. Cass does not believe that his brother would be capable of such a thing and goes to the scene of the crime to see if he can find anything. He does find two things, a laptop that his brother used at The Bank and a ghost. The ghost of his dead brother. Not being the kind of cop that plays by the book he takes the laptop with him and dismisses the ghost as trauma and stress.

To makes matters even worse, Cass is then implicated in the murder of his brother. His fingerprint is found on the weapon and his enemies within the police forst jumps on this opportunity to get rid of him. Things are looking pretty bad, a serial killer on the loose, two dead kids, his brother is dead, he is seeing ghosts and someone is out to get him.

I'm really impressed with Sarah Pinborough's A Matter of Blood, it is a very good book. It's the first part in a series called Dog Faced Gods Trilogy and I have already purchased the second one, The Shadow of the Soul. In A Matter of Blood Sarah Pinborough's London is set in the near future. It's a dark, but realistic future where the economy has taken a beating and crime is on the rise. Police budgets has been cut and London's finest has been pushed into taking bribes to ignore lesser crime. From the ashes of the economy The Bank has emerged, a massive corporation with huge financial power. This is where Cass' brother worked and pretty much everyone knows someone that works there.

Sarah Pinborough has done a really good job with the characters as and especially Cass Jones who feels very genuine. All characters from Cass' partner Clarie May (whom he had a relationship with) to the honourable crime boss Artie Mullins have a lot of depth to them which makes the book such a good read. It pulls you in and you almost forget that it is a book you are reading.

A Matter of Blood is more about good old fashioned detective work than running around with guns blazing, but that does not mean it's boring and the book does contain some action. As Cass unravels more and more of the mystery we are given more hints of the paranormal elements in the book which works really well. In this first book we are only given a taster of what is really going on in our world and there are a lot of unanswered questions for book two and three. All this is accomplished without any sense of A Matter of Blood being a incomplete book, it can stand on its own, you just want more. The only criticism I have is that to get access to his brother's laptop there is some quite corny password cracking involved which maybe could have been done differently. Apart from that the story moves forward beautifully and Sarah Pinborough never has to rely on odd coincidences or weird decisions from her characters. I look forward to reading more about Cass Jones.

A Matter of Blood weighs in at 432 pages and is published by Gollancz.

Verdict: must read

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