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Splinter in the Blood    by Ashley Dyer order for
Splinter in the Blood
by Ashley Dyer
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

After months of hunting the vicious murderer whom the UK press has dubbed the Thorn Killer (for inking extensive tattoos on victims with a sharp thorn), Detective Chief Inspector Greg Carver is shot in his home. His trusted partner, Sergeant Ruth Lake, finds him. Yet instead of calling for help, she rearranges the crime scene and wipes the room clean of prints - why? Readers only find out much later.

Though Ruth had believed Carver dead, he survives, but with little recollection of what happened to him. His life had been troubled before the shooting. His wife Emma has left him because of his obsession with the case and his drinking. In fact, he'd emptied a whisky bottle before the incident. Carver is certain that the Thorn Killer was the one who shot him, and is determined to bring the perp to justice.

Ruth's actions arouse the serial killer's deadly interest. She leads the investigation, but keeps her own secrets close. Readers, who are given a window into the killer's growing interest in Ruth, know that this will end badly. The Thorn Killer needs to discover secrets, seen as 'prizing open an oyster shell and finding a pearl.' And Ruth gradually learns that all the victims kept a secret from others in their lives.

In her work, Ruth consults the rather creepy and sleazy forensic adviser, Dr. Lyall Gaines on the significance of tattoos in different societies. He admires the killer's work. Ruth also learns that a woman with whom Carver had a brief affair, was killed on the same night he was shot. Carver comes under suspicion. And, though he doesn't remember everything that happened, he's starting to see people's auras, which can be quite informative.

Splinter in the Blood, the author's debut novel, is a most intriguing mystery with a surprising resolution - highly recommended, and I hope we'll see more of Sergeant Ruth Lake and learn all her secrets.

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