A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.
DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man's death draws the attention of the local Gay Rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.
Things become further complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.
Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway's new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner, delivering the punch that readers of LITTLE GIRL LOST have grown to expect.
First off, I'm going to admit that I know Brian quite well. We're both Derry folk, you see - and have a number of mutual longstanding friends. We both started our writing careers at the same time - and so have worked together on a number of projects and have been sat side by side at many events.
It makes the prospect of reading one of Brian's books scary - because if I think they suck, it could end a lovely supportive friendship.
Thankfully I've yet to read one of Brian's books that I haven't loved - and by loved, I mean ploughed through - even though, ordinarily, crime fiction is not my thing and I don't think I ever read a police procedural novel before Brian told me about his latest creation - DS Lucy Black.
"I'd be interested to see how you think I write a female lead," Brian asked and I nodded and said I would tell him. So sat down to read Little Girl Lost (a New York Times bestselling title) - and was immediately swept up in Brian's in-depth and at time keeping uncomfortable look at Northern Ireland's criminal underworld.
The Lucy Black novels are all set in and round our home city of Derry - it brings an immediacy to the stories that are instantly relatable to me as a local reader but I don't think it would preclude anyone else from getting enjoyment from the read.
What Brian also does well is capture the zeitgeist of the moment. Bad Blood is set in the immediate run up to the Brexit referendum - when tensions were running high. It follows DS Black investigating the murder of a young gay man, and also getting caught up in investigating an apparent hate crime against members of the Romany community.
With the modern political world being what it is - this book could not be more timely. It's a dark, disturbing look at how hate breeds hate, at how homophobia is very much alive and well in this corner of the world and of how people from outside our tight knit communities can at times be feared and demonised.
Once again, Brian's story moves along at a pace - with so many twists and turns and revelations that it never once feels like any section of this book is filler. Nothing drags - it rattles along at an incredible pace, tension building until the final chapters.
As Brian once asked me how I felt he writes a female lead - here's my take on it. DS Lucy Black is a brilliantly drawn character. She is kick ass at her job, but she is also deeply flawed. She has been wounded by her past (and to a degree the troubles of her present) but she strives to do the right thing - acknowledging that she doesn't always want to or find it easy to do so.
There is a sequence towards the end of this book that is written incredibly - where Lucy's fighting spirit comes into full force. It's a difficult scene to read but it is one of the finest Brian has ever written.
Bad Blood is the fourth book in the Lucy Black series - and it stands well on its own. You don't need to have read the previous books to get everything from this novel, but I recommend you do.
I'd love to see Lucy Black on the small screen - as a strong female character at the heart of some very serious investigations.
Bad Blood is, for my money, Brian's best book to-date and it is brilliant to see him go from strength to strength. I hope there are many more stories in the Lucy Black series.
Bad Blood is published by Corsair.
I purchased my own copy of this book.
One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?
It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.
Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenni. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?
Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?
Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.
Perfect for fans of B A Paris and Paula Hawkins.
This book had come under my attention through Social Media - the striking cover lured me in, as did the book title. The blurb promised even more - So I was delighted to get my hands on a review copy.
I started reading this book on a bumpy flight to Glasgow - and very soon found it to be one of the most unputdownable reads of the year.
Raw, dark, twisty and unpredictable it followed the stories of two couples whose lives are thrown off track by one simple question.
"If you could have anyone else, who would it be?"
Men and women of the world - do yourselves a favour. Never answer this question if asked by your partner. Or if you do, pick a celeb you wouldn't have a hope in hell's chance of getting with,
No good can come of any other answer - as Amanda Robson's skilled debut shows.
We're used now to having books show unreliable narrators - in Obsessed there are four unreliable voices and the reader's loyalties, beliefs and sympathies will change many times during the course of the read.
Is there one person to blame for the chain of events that follows this seemingly innocent question or is everyone a little guilty? Once the can of worms is opened in this book, it is impossible to close it again.
In turns the characters switch from being likeable to thoroughly unpleasant and back again - and it's not until the final, devastating twist that the full truth emerges starkly, leaving the reader reeling.
For a debut this is remarkably accomplished. There is a gritty honesty about Robson's writing that makes the book an uncomfortable but all encompassing read.
It's one of those great books that, when you turn the last page, you just have to let the events you have just lived through vicariously rest for a bit as you come to terms with what you've read.
Obsession is available now and is published by Avon.
I received a copy of this book for review via Netgalley.
If you could change the past, would you?
This summer, get ready to believe in Impossible Things with the brand new book from international bestseller, Rowan Coleman.
How far would you go to save the person you love?
Luna is about to do everything she can to save her mother's life.
Even if it means sacrificing her own.
I recently said the mark of a good book was that you simply could not put it down and would sneak away from family and friends to read a little more. I want to add now that the mark of an exceptional book is that you need to keep taking little breaks from reading it because
1) It is so exceptionally written that you want to process what the author has said
2) You simply don't want it to end.
Rowan Coleman has a habit of getting right into the depths of your emotions with her books. We Are All Made of Stars had me sobbing at the poolside on holiday. The Memory Book had me sobbing loudly in the hairdressers while getting my roots touched up.
The Summer of Impossible Things made me cry too - and gasp, and re-evaluate things, and hope, and fear and think about love and what we would do for our family and friends. It's a book about so much - but what I choose most of all to take from it (and there is a lot to choose from) is the story of a bond between a mother and daughter and of the sacrifices each would make for each other.
Set that against the backdrop of a melting hot summer or two in Brooklyn, add a time-travel twist which brings you from the modern day to the disco era - and you have a book that comes to life in your hands.
I personally find it rare for a writer to create a sense of place so well. But with this book, while reading, I could feel the heat of the sun, hear the strains of the music, smell the bakery, feel the faded pages of the books the characters held in their hands and hear the whirr and click of the Super 8 projector.
This is quite simply a beautifully written, emotional rollercoaster of a book that I think will take the reading world by storm this summer.
'The Summer of Impossible Things' will be published by Ebury, on June 29.
I received a review copy of this book from the publishers.
For the love of books
A good writer must be an avid reader. I'll be posting reviews of some of the books I'm reading. Disclaimer: I'm not a book blogger - I'm just a reader. These are books I've chosen to read for fun.