Splinter in the Blood is a mesmerizing debut police thriller set in Liverpool. In the spectacular opening scene, Detective Ruth Lake is holding a loaded pistol and gazing at the bullet hole in her boss’s chest. She and her boss, Detective Greg Carver, had been trying to find a sadistic serial killer whose signature involves laboriously covering his victims’ bodies with bizarre tattoos before poisoning them. Ruth thinks her boss is dead, and she calmly removes crucial evidence from the crime scene. What on earth is she doing? When Ruth realizes Carver is alive, the secrets and lies begin. The story follows Ruth as she investigates both the serial killer case and the shooting, enlisting Carver’s help while he recuperates in the hospital. But both of them are lying, and the serial killer is watching. Ruth and Carver examine tattooing rituals, poisonous plants, symbolism, psychics, and dark secrets as they gradually unravel the truth. This impressive debut features intense and complex protagonists, intriguing supporting characters, a provocative plot, and fascinating forensic details. Highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and classic whodunnits. – Kim
A propulsive debut suspense novel, filled with secrets, nerve-jangling tension, perplexing mystery, and cold-blooded murder, in which a police officer on the hunt for a macabre serial killer is brutally attacked, and only his partner knows the truth about what happened—and who did it.
After months of hunting a cold-blooded murderer that the press has dubbed the Thorn Killer, Detective Greg Carver is shot in his own home. His trusted partner, Ruth Lake, is alone with him. Yet instead of calling for help, she’s rearranged the crime scene and wiped the room clean of prints.
But Carver isn’t dead.
Awakening in the hospital, Carver has no memory of being shot, but is certain that his assailant is the Thorn Killer. Though there’s no evidence to support his claim, Carver insists the attack is retaliation, an attempt to scare the detective off the psychopath’s scent, because he’s getting too close. Trapped in a hospital bed and still very weak, Carver’s obsession grows. He’s desperate to get back to work and finally nail the bastard, before more innocent blood is spilled.
One person knows the truth and she’s not telling. She’s also now leading the Thorn Killer investigation while Carver recuperates. It doesn’t matter that Carver and the rest of the force are counting on her, and that more victims’ lives at stake. Ruth is keeping a deadly secret, and she’ll cross every line—sacrificing her colleagues, her career, and maybe even her own life—to keep it from surfacing.
Utterly engrossing and filled with masterfully crafted surprises, Splinter in the Blood is a propulsive roller-coaster ride, filled with deception, nerve-jangling tension, perplexing mystery, and cold-blooded murder.
Ashley Dyer is a writing duo based in the United Kingdom.
Margaret Murphy is a Writing Fellow and Reading Round Lector for the Royal Literary Fund, a past chair of the Crime Writers Association (CWA), and founder of Murder Squad. A CWA Short Story Dagger winner, she has been shortlisted for the First Blood critics’ award for crime fiction as well as the CWA Dagger in the Library. Under her own name she has published nine psychological suspense and police procedural novels.
Helen Pepper is a senior lecturer in policing at Teesside University. She has been an analyst, forensic scientist, scene of crime officer, CSI, and crime scene manager. She has coauthored, as well as contributed to, professional policing texts. Her expertise is in great demand with crime writers: she is a judge for the CWA’s Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction Award, and is a forensic consultant on both the Vera and Shetland TV series.