Publisher: William Heineman
Publication Date: 24th May 2012 (paperback)
In Her Blood is the debut novel from Annie Hauxwell. The first in a series of books featuring Catherine Berlin, it is a gritty crime novel which opens with a body being found about 3 minutes from where I used to live in London, which was a bit of a shock. Much in the same way as with The Murder Wall, which is set in my current location of Newcastle, I found myself trying to see how many of the places I recognised. There were quite a few, but luckily I’ve never seen a dead body in any of them…
Catherine Berlin is an investigator with the Financial Services Agency who, rather predictably, refuses to play by the rules. Following the death of her informant, ‘Juliet Bravo’, her investigation into Juliet’s information is closed down and she is suspended for failure to follow the correct procedure. She knows that the death is linked to the activities of notorious loan shark who is well-known to the Agency, but when she finds out that her father knew Doyle’s father, things start looking more personal. It gets worse when her GP is murdered and his stock of legal heroin is stolen. Berlin is a long-term addict, and Dr. Lazenby was one of the only doctors who would still prescribe heroin rather than methadone. Berlin manages to get 7 vials via some stolen prescriptions, giving her a week to solve the murders and find another doctor before withdrawal begins.
It did take me a little while to get into In Her Blood, perhaps due to the fact that I’ve been reading a lot of YA books recently and wasn’t quite prepared for the change in tone. However, when I did get into the swing of the novel, I rather enjoyed it. Berlin is a strong character – very much in the vein of the glut of dour cops, but still original. Yes, she has her predictable moments, such as refusing to share information which would save her a beating, but she has an edge of instability which makes her an entertaining character.
Other characters are well-handled, with crooked cops, East-End gangsters, victims of money-lenders and bent City bankers all represented. Hauxwell is also good at inserting relevant references to the political and financial climate without sounding preachy. Cuts to the policing budget and the subsequent downturn in efficiency are shown to be to blame for at least one of the book’s many murders, as well as the presence of corrupt officials and policemen.
It was a welcome surprise to me that the novel had a good ending, with the numerous plot strands all tied up, although not too neatly. Although not necessarily the kind of book that I would buy for myself on first glance, I’m grateful to have been sent it and I look forward to the next novel in the series.
This was sent to be by the publisher, but I was not paid for the review and all views are my own.