October 2013

Zoe Sharp - The Blood Whisperer

"Written throughout with dexterity, a searing pace and an artisan’s eye for detail, ‘The Blood Whisperer’ is a first class thriller..."

The uncanny abilities of crime-scene analyst Kelly Jacks to coax evidence from the least promising crime scenes once earned her the nickname The Blood Whisperer. Six years ago, everything changed when Kelly awoke next to the body of a man who'd been butchered, a knife in her hand and no memory of what had happened. She trusted the evidence to prove her innocence. It didn't.

After her release from prison, Kelly must try to re-assemble her life. Shunned by former colleagues and friends, the only job she can find is with a firm of a crime scene cleaners run by her old mentor. But old habits die hard, and when her instincts tell her things aren't as they appear at the scene of a suicide, she can't help but start asking questions someone doesn't want answered.

Plunged into the nightmare of being branded a killer once again, Kelly finds herself on the run, pursued by the police, Russian thugs and a local gangster. Betrayed at every turn she finds her options rapidly diminishing, but Kelly learned a whole new skill-set while imprisoned. Street-smart and wary she has to use all her skills, old and new to stay alive long enough to clear her name.

I'm a relatively recent convert to the world of Zoë Sharp – best known for her excellent Charlie Fox novels – so I was very keen to see what she could do when she stepped away from her series character. Let me tell you, Sharp has matched her previous works and raised the bar with an intelligent thriller which is both thoughtful and action packed. No mean feat.

'The Blood Whisperer' works as a kind of everyman novel although Kelly does have a connection to the police it is a tenuous one at best. The plotting is first class and while I worked out some of the clues and twists in advance, I only got there a couple of pages before Sharp made her reveal. I suspect this was the author's intention all along. Sharp may be a lady, but she led me throughout the dance between author and reader.

Kelly Jacks was drawn with a consummate skill which had me rooting for her from page one. Innovative with her thinking, she kept going, determined to exonerate herself and unmask her pursuers. Lytton, O'Neill, Dmitry and Grogan were all well constructed but of the supporting cast it was Myshka who dominated with her empowered presence.

Written throughout with dexterity, a searing pace and an artisan's eye for detail, 'The Blood Whisperer' is a first class thriller which proves Zoë Sharp can step away from her comfort zone without losing one iota of her trademark panache. It is little wonder Stuart MacBride describes her as the best kept secret in crime writing.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Back to review archive