it is my great pleasure to be one of today’s stops on the blog tour for Untainted Blood, the latest DI Gus McGuire novel from Liz Mistry. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book with you in just a moment after we’ve taken a look at what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
In a city that is already volatile, tensions mount after a Tory MP in Bradford Central is discredited leaving the door open for the extreme right-wing candidate, Graeme Weston, to stand in the resultant by-election.
However, Graeme Weston is not what he appears to be and with secrets jeopardising his political career, he must tread very carefully.
Meanwhile, a serial killer targets Asian men who lead alternatives lifestyles and delivers his own form of torture.
As DI Gus McGuire’s team close in, the deranged killer begins to unravel and in an unexpected twist the stakes are raised for Gus.
Are the murders linked to the political scandals or is there another motive behind them?
DI Gus McGuire and his team are back and this might be their toughest case yet.
Now if you are someone who is easily offended by racism or books with racist themes then I can categorically say this is not a book for you, as the racism in this book is as in your face and as abhorrent as anything you may have seen on television, particularly the racial motivated clashes which have been broadcast from the US of late. If you are open minded and accept that this is a sad part of society which, while reprehensible, is still prevalent, then carry on reading. For this is a book which taps into every despicable part of our society – every prejudice, every fear – and gives them life. And yes it is, on occasion, in a gratuitous way, one which will make you sit up and take notice.
Set in the world of extreme right-wing politics, with men and women who are not afraid to make their hatred of non-white, non-British people known, people who are willing to take their actions to a violent level, there is no hiding from the tension and ill feeling which leeches from the pages. It can make reading parts of the book very uncomfortable and certainly you only pray that you don’t actually know anybody quite so vile in your real life. Tapping into the post-Brexit animosity and violence directed to all people deemed ‘foreigners’ the story revolves around a serial killer, targeting largely Asian men, and a want-to-be MP who hopes to take his hatred into main stream politics in Bradford. Being a highly ethnically diverse town, this is a fine setting for such a novel and the number of potential victims, and likely suspects, is high.
I won’t say too much about the plot but it is a one which is fuelled by secrets, lies and hatred, and nothing is quite as it seems on the surface. There are certain events which only fuel further violence and certainly things which may come as a surprise later on in the story. Clues are dropped throughout, so perhaps some of the big reveals are less surprising but they are still effective and inform the story in a way in which even the police cannot suspect.
This is my first introduction to this series and I can see that I’ve probably missed a lot in not reading the first two books. DI McGuire is clearly haunted by events from his past and these inform the tone of the story, certainly of his persona. I get the feeling too that while this can read as a standalone story, there are some major events referenced which may provide spoilers if the books are read out of sequence. Gives you a good reason to go and buy more books now doesn’t it?
McGuire is a haunted sole, his own distractions and depressions sometimes affecting his ability to concentrate on the job. Certainly, his colleagues are concerned for him and it is easy to understand why. Being a man of mixed race, he is also on the killer’s radar and this adds a layer of jeopardy and tension to the story, especially when it becomes personal.
The story largely follows the investigating team as they try to piece together what has happened but there are also sections in which we follow the twin daughters of one of the victims. They have surprising links to events beyond the fact that their father has been murdered and one of the twins is hiding a big secret, one which is slowly eating away at her. Their story is quite emotional and the fragile nature of one twin compared to the feisty nature of the other rings true, even if in fact both are suffering in their own way. There are also sections told from the killer’s perspective and you can see the slow unravelling of a very deranged mind as they try hard to carry out their master plan. But while the why may be obvious, the who is perhaps less so.
What I did love was the dynamic between McGuire and Alice. Their interactions were easy and natural, in spite of the nature of what they were facing. Alice got McGuire to face some of his demons and accept things that he cannot change and he definitely need that. I also loved his father, who is also the force pathologist. McGuire senior provided many of the lighter moments in the story, his character so different from his son’s.
This is a gritty read, the racism sometimes hard to read but sadly not hard to believe. The pacing was slower than I expected but this is not a bad thing, and when the tension ratchets up, so does the speed, particularly near the end when the stakes were at their highest. There is a kind of uncompromising reality about this book. The murders are sickeningly brutal, the twisted logic so inexplicable that you needed to see justice served. Whether you think it finally was is a decision for the reader.
A compelling read with characters I could certainly get behind and I’ll be looking forward to reading more in the series.
My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me to be a part of the tour and to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review. It is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
As well as writing crime fiction, Liz is co-founder of and main contributor to The Crime Warp blog, which reviews all areas of crime fiction, interviews crime authors and participates in blog tours. She is the main publicist for the blog, using social media to promote their presence.
Liz is an ex teacher who has taught in inner city Bradford schools for over twenty years. Her husband of nearly 30 years is Indian and they have three children. They live in inner city Bradford and Liz likes to use the rich tapestry of her life in Bradford, combined with her Scottish heritage, in her writing.
In Sept 2017 she is starting a PHD In Creative Writing, researching crime fiction and social media.
Liz also teaches creative writing, specifically within the crime fiction genre.
Make sure to take a look at some of the other blogs taking part in the tour