What the blurb says: “The uncanny abilities of London crime-scene specialist Kelly Jacks to coax evidence from the most unpromising of crime scenes once earned her the nickname of The Blood Whisperer. Then six years ago all that changed. Kelly woke next to the butchered body of a man, the knife in her hands and no memory of what happened. She trusted the evidence would prove her innocent. It didn’t. Now released after serving her sentence for involuntary manslaughter, Kelly must try to piece her life back together. Shunned by former colleagues and friends, the only work she can get is for the crime-scene cleaning firm run by her former mentor. But old habits die hard. And when her instincts tell her things are not as they appear at the scene of a routine suicide, she can’t help but ask questions that somebody does not want answered. Plunged into the nightmare of being branded a killer once again, Kelly is soon fleeing from the police, Russian thugs and a local gangster. Betrayed at every turn, she is fast running out of options. But Kelly acquired a whole new set of skills on the inside. Now street-smart and wary, can she use everything she’s learned to evade capture and stay alive long enough to clear her name?”
The Blood Whisperer is a standalone book from Zoë Sharp, author of the fabulous Charlie Fox series. I’m a huge fan of the series and so was really excited to dive into this book.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Kelly Jacks has the skill and instinct to read a crime scene to rival that of Dexter Morgan (of the series, DEXTER) but without any of his serial killer tendencies. Having served her time for a crime that she still has no memory of committing, she’s picked up her life and has a job as a specialist crime scene cleaner, cleaning up the crime scenes that she once used to be working. Slowly she’s getting her life back.
But when Kelly and her work partner, Tyrone, are called in to clean a bathroom where a suicide has taken place, Kelly finds evidence to suggest foul play was involved. She questions whether the police should re-look at the scene. They don’t. But from then on bad things start to happen.
I’m not going to share the details [no spoilers here!]. But as things go from bad to worse, once again Kelly ends up in the frame for murder. This time she knows that she’s not the killer, and she can prove it. Question is, can she find out who’s trying to frame her before more people die?
Kelly is a dynamic and resilient heroine. She’s smart, with a good range of survival skills honed from her time in jail, and she’s also empathetic and caring. It bothers her deeply that those she cares about are getting hurt because of the people chasing her. And that makes her even more determined to get justice.
High on suspense and tightly plotted, the pace moves ever more rapidly as Kelly unravels a tangled web of lies, greed and deception that will take her from the streets of London to the world of horse racing via seedy warehouses, end-high escorts, plush offices and swanky apartments.
What I especially enjoyed about this novel was the characters. The whole cast is brilliantly drawn, uniquely individual and compulsive-reading in their own right – like Tyrone, Kelly’s sweet work partner who’s secretly crushing on her, Myshka the Russian dominatrix seeking her own fortune, and Matthew Lytton the self-made businessman whose wife’s apparent suicide set off the whole chain of events. Kelly has to decide who she can trust to help her and, more importantly, who she can’t. Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely places.
I love this book for the pulse pounding action, the artfully woven conspiracy, and the fabulous characters.
[I bought my own copy of The Blood Whisperer]