Monroe, Grace - 'Blood Lines'
When I read the first book in this series, DARK ANGELS, late last year, I thought it might have potential. The characters were quite interesting, though the plot was rather disappointing. I hoped that now the writers, for they are a duo, had got all that Knights Templar rot out of their system they could turn this into an intriguing ongoing series, set as it is in the world of high-powered lawyers and Lords Advocate etc of Edinburgh. It promised a tantalising glimpse into a world not many of us know much about. There seemed to be lots of opportunity for high-level corruption plots with big things at stake.
So at first glance, this book being about corruption among Edinburgh lawyers, I thought it would be interesting. How wrong I was.
Actually I was a bit perturbed by the title and the strap line. "Blood Lines", together with "Blood is thicker than water - and far more deadly" on the front seemed to imply that the crime would have some connection to her family, probably more of the afore-mentioned Templar twaddle, however they turned out to have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. I almost began to wish they did.
The book opens with a gruesome attack on an unidentified woman, but you don't actually find out who she is, or how she's connected to the plot (such as it is) until at least halfway through the book, where it is revealed with a hideous bit of misdirection. Most of the plot is concerned with how Brodie McLennan can save her career from ruin when everyone from the law society to her fellow lawyers is apparently out to get her. I can't imagine why. In the process of this Brodie reveals herself to be just about the most self-centred, self-pitying, self-absorbed character I've ever had the misfortune to meet in a crime novel - and we are presumably supposed to like her. By about one hundred pages in I was willing the corruption investigation to hurry up and find her guilty so I wouldn't have to spend any more time with her. Brodie is so caught up in saving her own skin that she has only a passing sympathy for the poor mutilated woman we met at the beginning, seeing her only as a clue to what's been happening to poor ill-done-to Brodie. I really, really didn't care what was happening to Brodie and I only finished the book through sheer strength of will and a sense of obligation to Euro Crime who sent it to me to review. Trust me, I shan't be reading another of these, though unfortunately it seems there will be third.
Avon have been making a big push in the crime fiction market with at least two new titles a month, but if they can't do better than this, they're really not going to succeed.
Pat Austin, England