When D.I. Kim Stone and her team are called out to a crime scene, it should be a relatively straightforward case; a simple case of a robbery gone bad. The female victim, found in her car outside of a pub, suffered a single stab wound to her heart before being left to die. Except this is anything other than straightforward. For one thing, no one knows why the victim would have been outside this particular pub. And the very nature of the attack makes Kim doubtful that everything is as it seems.
When a second victim is found with a strikingly similar wound, Kim knows her instincts are right. The two victim’s lives were poles apart and aside from both being dead, there is no obvious link between the two. For the team, it is a battle to understand the reason for the two deaths before the killer has a chance to strike again. And when, during the investigation, a certain name turns up more than once, Kim begins to wonder if it is one coincidence too many.
As if the case wasn’t enough to contend with, a letter arrives from Kim’s greatest foe, the sociopathic Dr Alexandra Thorne. Thorne is desperate to regain her freedom, to overturn her conviction at appeal, but in order to do that she needs to take care of the people who testified against her. The first one is simple, a straightforward target, and holds no fear for Alex. Kim, however, has proven herself more than a match for the manipulative Doctor. But Alex took Kim to the edge once before, and this time she is determined to fully break her by forcing her to confront her greatest demon, the very person who taught her what true evil looks like – her own mother.
As Alex continues to play her mind games and the team struggle to find any kind of lead which can identify the killer or their motive, Kim’s concentration is sorely tested. Totally distracted and with the powers that be doubting her judgment, will the team be able to stop a killer before they manage to pay their end game – taking a deadly revenge against one of their own.
Well. Angela Marsons has done it again – delivered a story that has the needle frantically bouncing around at the top of the unputdownability meter. With ‘Bloodlines’ she has handed the reader a true gift, not only bringing back the woman that you love to hate, Alex Thorne, but by producing a story which is both uncompromisingly complex and multi-faceted, and yet beautifully simple at the same time.
If you haven’t read ‘Evil Games’, then you really need to do yourself a favour and get back to it pretty sharpish. It will make the running story between Alex and Kim so much clearer for you. No spoilers for that particular story, but let’s just say, Alex is an acquired taste. Like arsenic. That said, she is probably also one of my favourite adversarial characters from the series, just because of her sheer intelligence and how much of a devious individual she proves herself to be. If you were to think of Alex as Moriarty to Kim’s Holmes, it would probably be as near to the mark as you could get. She is a delicious specimen and the way she plays Kim has lost none of its effect or appeal.
The writing is a slick as ever, the sense of setting within the Midlands spot on. Even Stacey’s colloquialisms and the way she speaks puts me in mind of so many people I know, I can’t help but smile every time I read it. The team are all back and we get to see not only some of the softer and also the more vulnerable side of Kim, but also how smart Kev actually is (no – really). Well hidden, maybe, but his competence is there. He still makes mistakes, but he is determined and passionate about his work, and he is growing on me more with every book I read.
There is a sense of not exactly closure for Kim, but perhaps an acceptance of what has happened in her past, and I will be intrigued to see how this plays out and affects her in future books. I’m delighted to know we have so many more adventures to come as Kim and her team are one of my favourite crime fighting teams right now.
‘Bloodlines’ is fast paced, surprising, frustrating (Alex), heart stopping (also Alex and a little bit Kev), edge-of-the-seat-hovering and funny in equal measure. It is, on the purest level, a murder investigation where the team struggle with finding any clear suspects or motive; a story of revenge skilfully executed by perpetrators who plan meticulously and wait patiently for just the right time to make their move. But at its heart, it is a beautifully sculpted, full on, twisted, mentally fatiguing battle of wits between two old foes. Kim v Alex. And you know what else. It’s just a flipping good yarn.
I love this series, and Angela Marsons has joined the ranks of authors I would drop anything else I was doing to read, and whose books I put on pre-order without even stopping to read the blurb. ‘Bloodlines’ was no exception and a brilliant addition to the series. My only complaint is that I’ve finished the book too quickly and have to wait for the next one (all my fault), but I know the anticipation, and the wait, will be worth it.
A big, fat, super-satisfied, sociopathically manipulative and bostin’ 5 stars.
In order to get the best from this book, I would recommend that you read the series in order: Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Bloodlines. This is probably the first book where I would say that not having read the other books could mean the reading experience is not as enriched as it could be.
My thanks to NetGalley and super publishers Bookouture for the copy of ‘Bloodlines’ by Angela Marsons in exchange for my review.
‘Bloodlines’ is released on 4th November and is available to order here: