Detective Greg Carter has been shot and critically wounded in his own home leaving him hospitalized and with amnesia. Fearing it may have been a suicide attempt, his friend and colleague, rearranges the scene and wipes it of fingerprints. But was it? Or was Carver shot by the target of months of investigation; the Thorn Killer, who kidnaps and tattoos women with a poisonous ink causing them to die slowly and in great pain. While Carver is fighting to recover, Ruth violates every rule while searching for the killer.
What an interesting approach. One may believe the shooter is obvious, but are they right? Then there is the aspect of our knowing the thoughts of the Thorn Killer. Dyer, the pen name for the writing team of Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper, provides an excellent way of presenting a lot of questions and compels one to continue reading in order to know the answers.
There are wonderful lines which can make one smile. It's hard not to enjoy the reference to "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and Ruth's remembering "Singularity is almost invariably a clue." Dyer leaves one wondering when she takes one down a new path. The introduction of a third internal voice is neatly done.
The author covers the forensic information well. She explains it in terms that are easily understood but not patronizing. The consideration given to the toxicologist is a very nice touch. It is also a good reminder as to which garden plants are best avoided.
In a way, one can't help but be relieved when a truth is revealed. Still, it adds a new set of questions. Dyer is very good at keeping the reader off balance. However, that she has given each of the protagonists a special ability is a bit contrived, but both abilities do exist and are real.
Dyer addresses the issue faced by women today—”Maybe she should have been more conciliatory, but sleepless nights and the daily graft involved in presenting an armor-plated front to the alpha males who would have her job given the chance wearied her beyond exhaustion." At the same time, Dyer doesn't dwell on it or beat the issue of sexism to death.
As an American, it is very interesting reading the details of the 1997 UK amendment to the Firearms Act which banned all automatic weapons as well as handguns smaller than 60 centimeters. Dyer also goes into detail about cognitive interviewing. The information provides reference and insight fascinating and is done in such a way that it doesn't bog down the plot.
When the suspense kicks in, it comes on fast. It is gripping and moves one to the edge of one's seat. There is not stopping now, and it all builds to a very well-done climax.
"Splinter in the Blood" is an extremely good debut with well-done details and a cracking ending.
SPLINTER IN THE BLOOD (Pol Proc-DS Ruth Lake/Det. Greg Carver-England-Contemp) – G+
Dyer, Ashley – 1st book
Wm. Morrow – July 2018