In The Blood by Ruth Mancini
|In The Blood by Ruth Mancini|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A creepily disquieting debut from an author I hope we'll be hearing more of. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: August 2018|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
Bringing up a child on your own is difficult: when that child is severely disabled the obstacles are almost insurmountable and criminal defence lawyer Sarah Kellerman struggles on a daily basis. Ben is nearly five but still can't walk or talk and isn't toilet trained. His main way of communicating is to have a screaming tantrum, but he will watch Teletubbies - for hours on end. She has sympathy with Ellie when she's charged with trying to murder her son, firstly by poisoning him and them by removing the dialysis line with was circulating his blood to clean it. On the face of it there doesn't seem to be a lot of chance of fighting the charge - that's certainly what Sarah's boss thinks - but Sarah isn't quite so certain.
Ruth Mancini is a criminal defence lawyer and her own son is severely disabled: what you're reading on both fronts is absolutely genuine (although I do hope that Ms Mancini's employers and colleagues are a lot more tolerant that those Sarah Kellerman has been burdened with) and goes a long way to explaining just how disquieting this story is. Sarah appears to be successful, but is constantly at the mercy of the demands made by her boss and colleagues and afternoons are spent wondering how she can juggle her commitments to ensure that she's able to pick Ben up from nursery on time and always dodging demands that she do something extra which 'won't even take her an hour', which she is told she could do 'before her boss could get there'. It all seems so reasonable - but, of course, isn't.
There is a light on the horizon though: Alex White, whom she met by accident in Waitrose when Ben was having a meltdown, but who doesn't seem fazed by Ben's problems. Perhaps 'if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn't' doesn't apply all the time? Surely she's due a little bit of good fortune? Sarah's likeable and you hope that it will work that way, but her client, Ellie, doesn't immediately come across quite so well. It's not the fact that she lives on a council estate and that her employment might not be quite the sort which you discuss in polite company. She's a little bit distant, a little cavalier about the charge which could mean that she won't see her one-year-old son again. It's not a big stretch of the imagination to think that she might have tried to murder the child.
It's a cracking story which pulls you in and simply doesn't let you go, with its mixture of family drama, investigation and a nail-biting courtroom finale. The characters come off the page fully clothed and you invest something of yourself in every one of them. The plotting is superb and I really hope that it won't be too long before we hear more from Ms Mancini. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
I've just been impressed by another debut: All the Hidden Truths (Three Rivers) by Claire Askew.
You can read more book reviews or buy In The Blood by Ruth Mancini at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy In The Blood by Ruth Mancini at Amazon.com.
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