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.
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.