Splinter In The Blood by Ashley Dyer

The living room of DCI Greg Carver, a man who has been obsessively hunting the Thorn Killer, a serial murderer who has been abducting and slowly murdering girls while tattooing their entire bodies, apparently using an ancient tool – a thorn. In his chair lies Carver, shot in the chest. And standing over him is his partner, DS Ruth Lake.

Has Lake shot her partner? Why else would she be clearing up the crime scene, taking evidence and all of Carver’s note about the Thorn Killer? Or was Carver a victim of the Thorn Killer? Or someone else? Whoever it was, they didn’t do a very good job, as Carver isn’t dead. But as he recovers in the hospital and Ruth hunts for the Thorn Killer without any help from her colleagues, it seems that danger lurks around every corner.

Ashley Dyer may be a new name to the blog, but the writer isn’t. It’s a pseudonym for Margaret Murphy, who has cropped up before as a writer in The Starlings and under a different pseudonym, A D Garret with Everyone Lies. The new name heralds a new consultant helping Margaret out, Helen Pepper, and a new set of characters.

It’s a fast moving read, certainly in the first and last thirds, with a bit of a dip in the middle. For the first section, we really don’t have a clue what is going on, and when we discover that – and given Ruth has forensic knowledge, I don’t really see why she thinks what she thinks – the investigation moves forward in interesting directions.

The strongest sections tend to be those concerning Carver’s recovery in hospital, as he struggles to recall what happened in his living room, but the investigations involving Ruth are strong as well. You have to turn a blind eye to some of the internal logic to the Thorn Killer’s plan, as the patient killer falls victim to the need of the genre to escalate things for an exciting climax.

As someone who’s read too many mysteries (is that possible?), I did spot the killer earlier than I would have liked, but regardless, this is a strong start to presumably a series. Well Worth A Look.

Many thanks to the author who provided me with the review copy (which was nice, as all I was expecting was a promotional coaster and bookmark!)

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