Abaddon x 2010

New Releases: A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough

A Matter Of Blood (Dog-faced Gods Trilogy) Sarah Pinborough's supernatural debut, A Matter of Blood, is something very modern and nasty. It combines the streetwise grime of a George Pelecanos mystery with a near future dystopian setting.

DI Cass Jones has a lot to deal with - a terrible marriage, a hideous past, a very strange (but successful) brother, a string of inopportune affairs and at least three disturbing murder cases (including a serial killer). 

Fortunately, he's a fantastic detective with a good network of useful friends. Unfortunately, he's attracted the attention of some of the world's real players. 

Starting from the first page, Jones is caught up in a whirlwind of action. Even when his cases are quiet, his own self-destructive tendencies keep things moving at a breakneck pace. Poor guy hasn't got a chance. With mobster negotiations, gunfights, flashbacks, computer crime - A Matter of Blood gleans all the most exciting scenes from every sort of mystery thriller. When there's not tension, there's action - and vice versa. This is a hard book to put down, if only because there are very few pauses in which one can safely take a break.

The mystery itself is well-plotted with genuinely surprising twists and turns for each of the storylines. The conclusion is also expertly balanced; Pinsborough deserves congratulations for resolving a tricky nest of mysteries while, at the same time, setting up the sequel.

Perhaps the best compliment that could be made to Ms Pinborough's book is that you don't even notice that it isn't a 'proper' mystery. Although science fiction and supernatural elements sneak in, they're done with such natural grace that it doesn't feel jarring. There's one small exception (when the author indulges in a tiny bit of indulgent world-building when describing the background of the all-powerful The Bank), but aside from that one tiny lapse, she maintains complete and utter suspension of disbelief. 

And, like the mystery elements, there's something for everyone - a sinister, world-spanning corporation, futuristic crime families, mysterious figures that go by the names "Mr Bright" and "Mr Solomon", strange, possibly-immortal beings and lots and lots of meaningful religious references.

This is a realistic (sadly) and engrossing mystery, set in a future that's close enough to touch.  A highly recommended new release, and an author to watch.