I’m a little (very) late to the party, but today I share my thoughts on The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham. Mandie will be taking part in the tour for Her Last Breath later this month so it seemed a perfect time to catch up and recap before we see what she thinks of book two. If you’d like to read her thoughts on The Tattoo Thief you can find them here. Before we see what I think, here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
A policeman on his first murder caseAvailable from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…
When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?
I am a fool. Mandie has been telling me for over a year how much I will enjoy reading this book. I knew she was probably going to be right as, having watched her going ‘ewww,’ ‘oh’ and ‘cool’ all of the way home from Glasgow on the train, and knowing that she finished reading it in a day which she never does!!!, so I really should have gotten to it sooner. I didn’t … but I have now and boy was that fun.
This book is exactly my kind of read. Exciting, tense, full of surprises and with a stellar cast of characters who made me want to read more about them. From the very beginning I knew this was going to be fun – if you can call having someone excise a tattoo from another living person’s body fun … At least they were living when the process started. This is a book about a art collector with a particular fetish. And a very different definition of the word art …
The two principal characters in this book couldn’t be more different and yet they work perfectly. First of all you have the Detective Inspector tasked with catching the eponymous “tattoo thief”. Francis Sullivan is a devout catholic, as straight as they come, and battling against a complete lack of respect for him and his newly promoted position. His your causes resentment, his naivety about his colleagues causes conflict – perfect. Then you have Marni Mullins, the tattooist who discovers the ‘first’ victim and who will come to inform and integrate into Francis’ investigation in ways neither of them could expect. She is strong willed and yet vulnerable. Absolutely sure of herself and yet slightly broken too, the reason for which we will learn over the course of the book. I really liked Marni. The fact that she took no messing and had the measure of Francis really early on made me chuckle. They are an atypical and yet perfect pairing and I’m looking forward to reading more from them in the coming books.
This book has a bit of everything I look for in a novel – suspense, tension, action and emotion. It is not an identikit model of your typical police procedural and yet all the key elements are there. It has characters you can both love and loathe, sometimes at the same time, enough mystery and misdirection to keep you one edge and one step behind the killer, and a plot which is unique and compelling. I raced through the book, wanting to see what happened next, wanting to see what new gruesome methods of dispatch the killer might employ. You do get some chapters from their point of view, a fact that makes me as a reader both wince and yet had me completely fascinated. Nothing about this book is what you might expect, and although I had some suspicions about one of the characters early doors which proved to be correct, the actual who did keep me guessing.
A very exciting debut from a really talented author. The great thing about being this late to the table is that I already have book two lined up to read and I cannot wait.
About the Author
Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter—and in 2000 was commended for her visual story telling in the Orange Prize for screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. The Tattoo Thief is out now, the sequel is coming soon and she’s currently working on the third book in the Francis Sullivan trilogy, Death’s Needle. Alison lives in Edinburgh, and when she’s not writing she spends her time visiting tattoo conventions.