Blood Lines by Grace Monroe

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Blood Lines by Grace Monroe

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: A young woman is mutilated and buried in the remote highlands of Scotland. A forensic accountant investigating money laundering via the legal profession goes missing. Brodie McLennan finds herself linked to both cases in ways that she could really live without. An excellent follow-up to Dark Angels.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2008
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 978-1847560414

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In August 2005 a young woman has climbed up to Ruthven Barracks with her lover. On such a romantic spot she might well be expecting a betrothal, but if she'd known her history better she'd also know that the ancient stones echo more with bloodlust and betrayal than they do with love. The fate that awaits her is gruesome.

Meanwhile, Brodie McLennan is suffering nothing worse than the embarrassment of the morning after the night before, having finally spent the night with local hack and bane of the forces of law and justice, Jack Deans. Her squidgy knickers she can stuff in her pocket; if she avoids the mirrors she doesn't need to know just how bad she looks; but there's no way she's leaving one of her shoes behind.

McLennan is no Cinderella. She's one of the youngest barristers Edinburgh has ever seen. It's in her blood, what with her newly discovered grandfather being Lord President, but she's got where she is by working hard and smart. Brought up outside of the privilege that might have been half of her birthright (the other half is just a little too sordid to worry about), she clings to her late adoptive mother by her insistence on retaining her name McLennan and refusing to become a MacGregor. She clings to the values she learned coming up the hard way too.

As a result she is winning cases, and making money. No bad thing, you might think, for a law firm left on the verge of bankruptcy courtesy of the senior partner being caught in the kind of scandal it's difficult to recover from. But making money is always a double-edged sword. The back-thrust in this case comes in the shape of Alex Cattanach, an investigative accountant currently investigating allegations of money laundering among the legal profession, and is nicely sharpened by a bar council united against young Ms McLennan (after all she's making money at their collective expense).

When Cattanach goes missing, presumed dead, McLennan is high on the suspect list.

Meanwhile one of her key clients seems to be losing control over the gang of Dark Angels that stalk the streets, an old friend is in desperate need of help, and as if that wasn't enough, her ex-husband seems to have finally found himself a girlfriend (not that she's jealous) and her arch-rival is all set to become a judge.

Just another walk down Scotland's darkest alleyways then!

In a strong follow-up to Dark Angels, Grace Monroe once again produces plot-twisting crime drama. Violent crimes, mutilated bodies, and deranged asylum patients smearing the walls with blood and excreta are just the beginning. This is a story of increasingly blurred identities, with the gender-reassigned in some ways being the most honest and transparent among them.

It's a deep dark world, lightened by the ridiculous extremes of McLennan's complicated family and friendships, the domestic details of the private lives of her and her colleagues and in particular by the nonsense banter we all still seem to manage to indulge in, no matter how bad life gets.

The quibbles from the first book are beginning to be addressed as the author gets more comfortable with the setting, and trusting readers to either know it or not care. There are still a few route-map tours of the city, but short enough not to irritate this time around.

This is pure story-telling. Don't expect deep characters, evocation of historical connections or anything remotely deep. The partnership that is 'Grace Monroe' (Maria Thomson & Linda Watson-Brown) write action-driven puzzle dramas that are pure entertainment.

If the first two McLennan books develop into a series (which seems to be the way it's shaping up), then I trust the TV scouts have got their copies already nabbed and their pencils sharpened.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Might also like: Although a stand-alone story, Blood Lines follows almost directly on from Dark Angels which might be worth reading first. If you enjoy this, then of course you already love Ian Rankin.

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