A Year of Orenda – Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

Today it is my great pleasure to share my thoughts on Blood Red City, the brand new thriller from Rod Reynolds, his first with Orenda Books. This is the first book I have read by the author but if this is any indication of what I’ve been missing, I’ll be correcting that really soon, A big thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour and to publisher Orenda books for keeping me stocked with such lovely titles.

Source: Amazon

About the Book

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books | Hive

My Thoughts

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I do admit that I purchase anything published by Orenda without much consideration before or after, and rarely read the blurb. I knew my fellow bloggers were waxing lyrically about though, and as the author’s first London set thriller, it was probably the perfect place to read my first Rod Reynolds title. What I found was a slick, fast paced thriller that was full of intrigue, well crafted characters and a plot which kept me hooked from the unexpected and shocking opening to the very satisfying ending.

When journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video file from an anonymous source, she has no idea the trouble simply viewing it is going to cause her. And for once, we aren’t talking the obvious infected with a virus, identity theft kind of trouble. That would be a walk in the park by comparison. Trying to find the source of the video, and the potential victim, puts Lydia in the sights of Michael Stringer, a guy who has his own reasons for needing the find the man in the video. And whilst Michael is not the most trustworthy of bedfellows, he is her best chance of survival against people who would happily kill to protect their secrets and keep the video hidden.

I’ll admit, the opening was quite shocking – not necessarily graphic in terms of the violence, but still one that makes you sit up and take note, leaving you with a lot of questions that the Lydia strives to answer over the course of the novel, with an investigation full of twists and turns, permeated by moments of real tension. There is an underlying sense of threat from start to finish, but it is sometimes hard to know where that threat is coming from. Michael is hardly whiter than white, and it is sometimes hard to know if he is working for or against Lydia, his actions both taking me by surprise and also kind of not.

Lydia is a great protagonist. As a journalist she has an instinct for a story and a dogged determination to see it through to the bitter end, even though this has cost per professionally in the past. Relegated to the night shift managing mindless celebrity gossip, the story gives her a chance to flex her investigative muscles and boy does she do so. Yes, she does make some questionable calls in terms of where she lets her curiosity lead her and there were times when I found myself frustrated by her actions. But ultiamtely she was driven by a desire to find the truth and to find the woman who filmed the video, no matter the danger it puts her in. She isn’t superwoman, and we often she her vulnerable side, but she has an inner steel that is easy to like.

Michael Stringer is a bit of an enigma. I really did like him as a character, even though his actions, and his chosen career, should lead to an ultimate suspicion over everything he does. It is hard at times to understand what drives him, but it is clear that beneath it all is a good heart, someone who cares about the people around him. When it comes to work it is simply a job – a contract – but when it is personal – family or friendship – I don;t think you could want anyone better in your corner. What is clear is that the chemistry between hom and Lydia is spot on. She doesn’t fully trust him – understandable – but there is a spark between them that is kind of irresistible to read.

As the pair weave their way through a very twisted world, the author starts to slowly allow the full picture to emerge, whilst still keeping the tension high and the nerves fully on edge, and keeping readers guessing right to the end. You never quite know who is on the side of right or wrong, or even if there is even a hint of right in this tale to begin with. There is certainly no end of shady characters to point the finger of suspicion at as the pair tunnel deeper and deeper to get to the real root of this deadly conspiracy. And whilst the final chapter may be quite sedate by comparison to what precedes it, it also leaves a hint of promise and leaving me with a smile on my face.

An intelligent, tense and action filled read that proved to be very satisfying. If you like a big-city based thriller then this is definitely recommended.

About the Author

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New
Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

Author Links: Twitter

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5 thoughts on “A Year of Orenda – Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

  1. I think you’re (especially) spot on about the frustrations we get from Lydia – there are times she just doesn’t get the nature of the danger she faces. The mark about a good book is that we believe that the *character* would think in that way not that the *author* had forgotten it! I loved that Lydia and Stringer were both so flawed in completely different ways

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