Monday, June 03, 2013

A Matter Of Blood - Sarah Pinborough

A Matter Of Blood
The Forgotten Gods: Book One
Sarah Pinborough
Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
There’s no better way to begin this than with the opening line of the novel: “The orchestra of flies buzzed above the mutilated corpse.”  That line alone will tell you if this book is for you or not.  If you like your fantasy populated by adorable elves and helpful Blue Fairies, then you need to look elsewhere.  If you enjoy a dark adventure through the minds and souls of morally ambiguous characters – and not a little violence and gore – then settle in.  And if you’ll take my advice, don’t start this one too late at night.  It’s incredibly difficult to put down.
The story is set in a near-future London, with the world enmeshed in a global recession both financial and spiritual.  The city teems with life, yet seems bleak.  Detective Inspector Cass Jones loves the city, but has lost a part of himself to an event that happened some years ago; an event that has irrevocably colored every aspect of his life since.  His caseload includes the drive-by murders of two innocent boys, and the apparent series murders of women.  There have been four women found in the last few months, killed by an injection, stripped naked, with “nothing is sacred” carefully painted across their chests in blood.  The blood used for painting belongs to none of the victims. 
All of that would be enough to grind a man down.  Then comes the devastating news that Cass’ brother, Christian, is dead.  The evidence shows that he first murdered his wife and young son, then committed suicide.  Cass knows that these acts are completely out of character for Christian, but he carries a huge load of guilt, knowing that his brother had been trying to reach him by phone for days.  Like everyone, Cass assumed that the calls could wait; that there would be time later.  He was wrong.
It all sounds like a police procedural.  But the reader is aware from the first page that something Other is at work here.  That “orchestra of flies” is being conducted by someone who is clearly not quite human.  It takes Cass a while to work the cases and get around to this, but it’s all completely, grittily real.  He’s a police in the real and realistic world.  As the cases progress, he becomes more and more convinced that there is something else going on behind the scenes – that something has maybe been going on for a lot longer than he or anyone else has suspected.  His character is flawed and imperfect and utterly sympathetic, even when he’s crossed over to the dark side of human behavior.  The author writes with a visceral intensity and a unique voice that had me completely immersed from the first page.  Putting down this book was like waking up from a particularly intense and not completely pleasant dream.  Fans of dark fantasy and thrillers should not miss this one.
Rating: 9
April 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25846-0 (trade paperback)


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