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Monday, April 19, 2010

'A Matter of Blood' by Sarah PINBOROUGH

Received from the publisher

From the BLURB:

The recession that grips the world has left it exhausted. Crime is rising in every major city. Financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world's wealthiest men. But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he's haunted by the deeds of his past, and he's got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve - not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies. Then Cass Jones' personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide - leaving Cass implicated in their deaths.
And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it's time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself - only to discover that all three cases are linked ...As Jones is forced to examine his own family history, three questions keep reappearing: what disturbed his brother so badly in his final few weeks? Who are the shadowy people behind The Bank? And, most importantly, what do they want with DI Cass Jones?

‘A Matter of Blood’ is the first book in Sarah Pinborough’s ‘The Dog-Faced Gods’ trilogy.

This is a dark and sinister read. Not least of all because it hits so close to home. Pinborough is writing about a not-too-distant future, only a few years away in fact. The GFC (Global Financial Crisis) has not abated, and in an effort to limit the fallout a conglomerate World Bank is created. Funded by billionaires Gates and Branson, in partnership with Japan, China and Russia, ‘The Bank’ now runs all of the Western World’s property and bank accounts in a bid to stave off a crippling depression. It is indeed a corporate-run world, and the times they are a changin’. Crime is on the rise, health-care is nonexistent and citizens are on-edge.

It is in this climate that the city of London is rocked by reports of a serial killer on the loose. ‘The man of flies is among us’ – preying on young women and leaving a gruesome maggot trademark that the papers would salivate over.

On the case is Detective Inspector Cassius ‘Cass’ Jones.
DI Jones brings to mind a very apt Raymond Chandler quote; “Police business is a hell of a problem. It's a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there's nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get.”
Jones is an imperfect hero, to say the least. He is dogged by memories of an undercover stint, in which the criminal underworld lured him in, and never really let him go. He is a self-confessed skirt-chaser whose marriage to wife Kate has never fully recovered from his first, and subsequent, infidelities. He snorts coke (recreationally) and has far too much in common with the heavyweight criminals he polices.

But there’s something undeniably appealing about Cass Jones, even when there shouldn’t be. He is very aware of his various vices, even embarrassed by them. He believes himself to be irredeemable - a lifetime of bad choices and stupid mistakes and he’s all but written himself off. He is his own underdog, and you can’t help but hope that he finds something within himself that is worth fighting for.

Cass smiled back. ‘I’m capable of a lot of things, Gary. We both know that.’ He leaned in closer, as if about to whisper a secret, and was pleased to see a twitch of something close to fear in Bowman’s own expression. ‘And another thing we both is that I’ll always be the better fucking copper. So keep my case warm for me and I’ll see you when this is sorted.’
Cass turned and walked away before Bowman could speak. He hoped he couldn’t see his clenched fists in the pockets of his own off-the-rack suit jacket.

Despite all of his negatives, Cass Jones is a damn good cop. Not least of all because he feels an obligation to the victims whose murders he investigates. He imagines those victims are clawing at him, their hands always picking at his clothes as they beg for his attention and delivery of justice.

He squeezed his dead brother’s memory to one side and felt it instantly replaced by the cold fingers of the murdered dead that quietly pulled at him. It felt like they’d torn a way through his skin as easily as digging up through the soft earth of a grave. Coke was a fucker like that. When it woke you up, it woke all of you up.

It’s an eerie image that Jones conjures for himself; but it illustrates his relentlessness, and the heavy burden he places on himself to do the right thing. If not for himself, then for the dead whose afterlife is entrusted to him.

Jones’s already complicated life is further shattered when his younger brother commits murder-suicide; killing his wife, son and then himself. Jones is dragged into the murky depths of his brother’s murderous motivations – and Jones comes perilously close to the breaking point when he starts seeing his dead brother’s ghost.
What is this eerie apparition trying to communicate to Cass? And how does his brother’s death link to ‘The Bank’ and the ‘Lord of Flies’ serial killer?

This book is an absolute feast of genre. It is a thriller, but with heavy supernatural undertones that undercut the murder-mystery and make it all the more sinister and intriguing. Pinborough evokes such a bleak setting and her characters are so gray that her writing is reminiscent of noir 'hardboiled' fiction. And certain aspects are also quite Shakespearean; like Cass's dead brother haunting him from beyond the grave being Hamlet-esque in reference. Pinborough is quite masterful in her marrying of these various genres and sub-genres, making the book a truly exciting read.

Pinborough can write gritty and gruesome with the best of them, but it’s her over-arcing conspiracy/thriller plot that will lure you in and ensure that ‘A Matter of Blood’ stays with you long after you’ve put the book down.

In ‘A Matter of Blood’ Pinborough has built a very bleak future that is entirely too close for comfort. She weaves a tangled web that I cannot wait to unravel in the next two books of the ‘God-Faced Dogs’ trilogy.



  1. wow this looks really interesting, I've got to check it out! awesome review hon!

  2. Great review! This seems a bit dark for my preference though (which makes me wonder if that's why I can't get into the JD Robb books).

  3. Oh awesome..I have never heard of this book. And a 5/5...will def check out!


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