This book choice is a topical one. You may have seen the government has announced an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal that left at least 2,400 people dead. In the 1970s and 1980s thousands of NHS patients, many of them haemophiliacs, were given blood products from abroad infected with hepatitis C and HIV. It has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS and to this day there has been no proper compensation for victims. Blood Symmetry by Kate Rhodes, whose husband contracted hepatitis C from infected blood, uses this scandal as the basis of her crime novel to great effect, interweaving a sensitive telling of the story with a gripping narrative.
Clare Riordan and her son Mikey are abducted from Clapham Common early one morning. Hours later, the boy is found wandering disorientated. Soon after, a pack of Clare’s blood is left on a doorstep in the heart of the City of London.
Alice Quentin is brought in to help the traumatised child uncover his memories – which might lead them to his mother’s captors. But she swiftly realises Clare is not the first victim… nor will she be the last.
The killers are driven by a desire for revenge… and in the end, it will all come down to blood.
This is the fifth book by Kate Rhodes to feature psychologist Alice Quentin, and it’s Alice’s toughest case yet. She is asked to help recover the memories of a traumatised young boy after he escaped the people who had kidnapped him and his mother. It is a race against time, first to save the boy’s mother, hospital consultant Claire, and then to find out who is behind a series of abductions and murders.
As usual, Kate Rhodes manages to lead us up blind alleys, twist our perceptions and generally confuse us so that by the end of the book we don’t know what to think and are surprised when all is revealed. It is also great to follow the developing relationship between Alice and police officer Don Burns though at times I wanted to tell Alice to relax and go with the flow!!
Also a poet, Kate Rhodes writes so beautifully, so elegantly. The words dance off the page. I am impatient for the next book.
Kate’s husband lived with his illness for twenty-five years before undertaking a gruelling course of treatment that saw him regain his health. He was one of the lucky ones.
Blood Symmetry is published by Mulholland Books, and an e book and paperback. It can, as ever, be borrowed from the fabulous Eye Library.