New year, new books! I am so excited to talk about Blood for Blood as my first review of 2020. I was lucky to meet the author at Capital Crime and she made me want to discover her work. I was not disappointed, and you can expect more about the Ziba MacKenzie series on this blog soon!
Title: Blood for Blood
Author: Victoria Selman
Narrator: Karen Cass
Date of publication: 1st February 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Length: 8 hours 40 minutes
How I got it: Bought it
Ziba Mackenzie profiles killers. Now one is profiling her.
Rush hour, London. A packed commuter train is torn apart in a collision. Picking through the carnage, ex-special forces profiler Ziba MacKenzie helps a dying woman who passes on a cryptic message: He did it. You have to tell someone.
When a corpse is found bearing the gruesome signature of a serial killer dormant for twenty-five years, Ziba is pulled into the hunt for the perpetrator. As the body count rises it becomes clear he’s on a new spree. But what’s brought the London Lacerator back after such a long hiatus? And does his sudden return have anything to do with the woman on the train?
Ziba scrambles to profile the killer in the hope of predicting his next move. But time is running out. And the closer she gets to uncovering his identity, the closer he gets to destroying hers.
The birth of Ziba MacKenzie and my discovery of Victoria Selman’s writing. Well, technically, I listened to Blood for Blood, but hey, let’s not dwell on this minor detail. After all, listened to or read, the words are the same. And what words!
Gritty and dark, Blood for Blood introduces us to a very special profiler with great skills but a heavy past and … wait for it… she is human. Yes! Ziba is flawed, she doesn’t have superpowers, she can’t pinpoint a murderer in a crowd without even having read a file! It is refreshing to have a main character with a job she’s good at but also not impervious to mistakes.
The book opens with a bang. A literal bang, and those pages told me all I needed to know about the author. Capable of transporting me in the middle of a wrecked train in London, able to make me connect with her protagonist while letting me build my own view of the event. I was blown away by the details sent my way.
One sentence and a mystery appeared. So obviously, I kept reading! I became addicted to the author’s very precise writing style, and without a warning, I had possible serial killer on the loose! I was really curious to know how Ziba would handle the case and make room for herself in a precinct that was still filled with the remains of her previous life. Things escalated quickly and so did my need for answers. An old case is never easy to handle, especially when 25 years have passed!
Blood for Blood has two sides in my opinion. The first part focuses on building a realistic world around Ziva, with hints of hidden things, dark clouds, and characters you’ll love to hate or suspect. I called it “the professional bit” Ziba was pretty much in charge and in her element, I swam in the waters she found herself in, surrounded by a undefinable boss, her dead husband’s best friend, and enough secondary characters to create a comfortable suspenseful crime bubble!
Then I turned a page and things got personal. Suddenly, a cold case appeared very very hot, and very very dangerously close to Ziba, pushing her on the edge, and revealing more of the woman behind the profiler. My nails suffered as Ziba was forced into a cat a mouse race with crazy mind games and lives at stake. A crippling tension oozed from the pages as I tried to run through the book. With time ticking away and Ziba risking her safety to uncover a killer’s identity, I had no time to check social media! I was completely lost to the world around me. Yes, Ziba fell into traps. Yes, she could have done things differently. You know what? I am glad she didn’t. Not only because she managed to get my veins pumping adrenaline, but most of all because it is good to have a profiler that’s not a robot.
The book never loses its eye for details, which adds to the thrilling chase and convinced me I could crack this investigation! I finally did, and was rewarded with a satisfying ending!
Blood for Blood is the powerful beginning of a promising series!
About the audio version: The narrator does a wonderful job, I was totally immersed in the story!
Find the audiobook
Buy the print or kindle version (ps: only £1 at the moment!)
In 2013 she won the Full Stop Short Story Prize and her first novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the 2017 Debut Dagger Award.
Victoria lives in London with her husband and two sons.