Thursday 21 July 2016

Blood Symmetry by Kate Rhodes: Review & Exclusive Story!

TITLE: Blood Symmetry
AUTHOR: Kate Rhodes
PUBLISHER: Mulholland Books


Amazon - Goodreads

Clare Riordan and her son Mikey are abducted from Clapham Common early one morning. Hours later, the boy is found wandering disorientated. Soon after, a pack of Clare's blood is left on a doorstep in the heart of the City of London.

Alice Quentin is brought in to help the traumatised child uncover his memories - which might lead them to his mother's captors. But she swiftly realises Clare is not the first victim... nor will she be the last.

The killers are driven by a desire for revenge... and in the end, it will all come down to blood.

I'm excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for Blood Symmetry, the latest book in the brilliant Alice Quentin series! My review comes at the end of this post but first, here's an exclusive story by Kate on one of my favourite characters, DCI Burns.

Blood Symmetry: DCI Burns’s story

I’ll let you into a secret. The sight of blood makes me heave, but that’s something I’d never reveal to a colleague. Luckily I’ve never passed out at a crime scene, which is just as well. My officers would take the piss mercilessly at the first sign weakness. Human frailty isn’t a great selling point in the Met, so I guard my secrets closely. No one knows about my year at Edinburgh Art School, before I got chucked out and headed for London to join the force. That’s when I realised my size could work to my advantage. People sit up and listen if you’re the biggest copper in the room, with a scowl to match, no matter how many doubts you’re concealing.

This is the only case that’s made me question my professional judgement. The killer has abducted a hospital consultant; test tubes full of her blood are being left at locations in London, in neatly wrapped packages. So far those tidy brown parcels are our only form of communication. Clare Riordan was out running on Clapham Common with her ten year old son, Mikey, when she was taken. We found the kid wandering through the suburbs later that afternoon. He’s in a safe house now, in case the bastard who took his mum is after him too. I’ve never seen a more terrified kid. His eyes are like saucers; the tiniest sound makes him jump out of his skin. Only he can tell us what happened to his mum, but he’s too terrified to speak. Mikey’s exactly the same age as my youngest boy. I’d rather not imagine how my sons would react if someone took their mum, right in front of their eyes.

Believe it or not, I still love my job, despite the crap it throws at me. The satisfaction of getting justice for each victim has kept me focused for twenty years, but this time it won’t be easy. Whoever abducted Clare Riordan is desperate not to be found. That’s why I’ve brought in Alice Quentin from the Forensic Psychology Unit. I’d rather not work on such a tough case with the woman who happens to be my girlfriend, but she’s the best in her field, so it can’t be avoided. To say that Alice is a closed book is an understatement. Sometimes the she refuses to open up pisses me off more than I can say. We’ve been together six months but I still know little about her, apart from hints that her childhood was the kind that often gets reported to Social Services, unless the parents slug it out behind closed doors. Most people look at Alice and see a doll-sized blonde with a gentle smile, but I see a survivor. The steel core running through her makes her ridiculously sexy. In an ideal world we could take a long break, laze on a beach somewhere, trading secrets. That won’t happen until I find out who’s killing doctors in the most brutal way imaginable. But a holiday is the next thing on my agenda, believe me.

Five books in and I still can’t get enough of the Alice Quentin series! Each book is brilliantly crafted and all-consuming, and Kate Rhodes never lets the reader down, always delivering a layered, fascinating and chilling story. Blood Symmetry is no exception.

I’ve mentioned before how much I like Alice, and that still remains. She’s definitely a woman you’d want on your side. In this book, I grew to like her even more and though she doesn’t overshadow the case, her character shines through. Clare Riordan and her son Mikey are out for a jog on Clapham Common when Clare is abducted. Mikey escapes, but he is traumatised. Mute and barely readable, Alice is there to try and uncover his memories, but it isn’t an easy task.

Mikey’s character appeared to me as very realistic and I found it really interesting seeing the stages of his trauma, and was eager for him to develop and recover a bit as when we meet him, he is hardly uttering a word, or at least not any that make sense. I cared for Mikey’s character early on even when I couldn’t understand him, and found getting to know his character through his actions, Alice’s perceptions and the little things he shared utterly engaging, and other than my fictional love for Alice Quentin, Mikey had me emotionally attached to this novel, something which I rarely feel in this genre.

One of the reasons why I love Kate’s books is because she makes them wholly human and accessible – exploring family, relationships and historical connections whilst still providing a tense and gripping crime to sink your teeth into. Blood Symmetry had all that, with pace and atmosphere delivered boundlessly, and I spent one very late night/early morning devouring her words whole. Because that’s another thing I love about Kate’s books – they are impossible to put down.

As Alice and her boyfriend DCI Burns (love him) attempt to uncover the truth, the appearance of blood packs all around London lead them to realise that Clare isn’t the only victim of the crime. And that is some understatement. Though there aren’t too many twists and turns in Blood Symmetry, it still had a huge mystery at its heart and I was kept guessing throughout. With every few Alice chapters divided by quick, pacy chapters from the perspective of the killer, I loved how unnerved and unsettled reading their thought process made me feel, as this engrossed me even more.

There is also a very honest and factual theme to this book – based on the real-life tainted blood scandal. This is not something I’d heard much of before reading Blood Symmetry but learning the author’s personal connection to the scandal at the end of the book made me feel the story even more. Kate’s writing made me feel the need to research the tainted blood scandal and I did, and this made Blood Symmetry shock and emotionally affect me even more.

The worst part about this book was that it came to an end. I feel the same way after every Alice book. Blood Symmetry was a startling read, incredibly intense and captivating, topped off by its very satisfying end. Kate manages to move me, destroy my emotions and just about fix me back up, ready for the next one through the course of her books and it never gets old. I cannot wait to see where she takes things next.

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