Written by Luca Veste — If crime fiction is your thing (and why wouldn’t it be?) then you’ll have probably read your fair share of police procedurals. Blood Streams fits neatly into the sub-genre, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Forget the languorous days of Dixon of Dock Green, because DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi have scant time to draw breath, let alone mouth ‘evening all’, so fast moving is this tautly plotted novel.
From page one, we are thrown head first into the action. Reality TV stars Chloe Morrison and Joe Hooper, better known to the tabloids as ChloJoe, are used to making the front pages. But not like this… They’re found in a scruffy house in the Liverpool suburbs, gagged, duct taped to chairs. And decidedly dead. Joe has been mutilated, while Chloe’s death was by injection, though the drug that killed her is something of a mystery.
Another room contains a kind of shrine to the pair, with articles cut from newspapers and magazines covering the walls, plus a scrawled message – ‘nothing stays secret’. It’s the killer’s mission statement, of sorts, but as as more couples turn up dead, it is difficult for Murphy and Rossi to fathom out any kind of connection. How does he pick his victims, and what secrets were they hiding? The media frenzy makes the investigation all the more taxing.
Luckily, we readers have a direct line to the murderer, because part of the story is told from his viewpoint. It soon becomes clear that he is obsessed by love and is out to avenge anyone who shatters his rather peculiar illusions of a perfect relationship – because as well as being a ruthless killer, this is a man who is holding his latest ‘girlfriend’ captive. ChloJoe were about to tie the knot… but were they being completely honest with each other? It’s a warped romantic vision from a mysterious murderer who lurks in the shadowy outer edges of the story. Who is he? The question nags away at the back of your mind like a dull toothache until all is revealed in spectacular fashion.
This is the third Murphy and Rossi book and the best so far, and we’ve reviewed both Dead Gone and The Dying Place. If you’ve read them, then you’ll enjoy the further development of the central characters, though this novel certainly works as a standalone too. It is fitting that a plot with such a twisted view of modern-day relationships at its core should also feature Murphy and Rossi at their most settled, emotionally. Murphy and his wife Sarah as getting along swimmingly, while Laura’s latest boyfriend is ticking all the boxes too. Don’t get too complacent though…
Blood Stream is a book very much of the moment, with reality TV, and social media all playing their part – the killer even has his own Twitter account! The action centres on Liverpool, and anyone who knows the city will recognise many landmarks though thank heavens the author doesn’t try to mimic the Scouse way of speaking too much (though you can pick up a few choice Italian swear words, courtesy of Laura Rossi).
He’s come a long way since he was a reviewer here on Crime Fiction Lover, and in Blood Stream Luca Veste shows that he’s become an established British crime author. The flowing prose and snappy dialogue are proof positive that he has a bright future. More please!
Simon & Schuster
CLF Rating: 4 Stars