My love for reading spans many genres but my favourites are crime thrillers, romance, fantasy and historical. Check out my last review for Dead at First Sight by Peter James. I have just finished reading Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce, published in 2019 by Wildfire. This novel explores abusive, toxic relationships, painting a very dark story. My pal, Kim, recommended that I read the novel as she couldn’t put it down and she was right!
A stunning debut novel
Harriet Tyce was a barrister in London before completing an MA in Creative Writing: Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. Blood Orange is her debut novel, and she uses her professional legal knowledge and experience in aid in the character-building and main storyline of the book. I look forward to her next books as this one is both dark and compelling. Suitably in the genre of thriller and suspense, it features revenge, lust, and murder.
The main character is Alison Wood: a London-based criminal barrister who drinks too much. She’s having a toxic affair with a colleague, Patrick, which is spiralling out of control. Beneath her high-power career and continuous deceit are neglected family – her six-year-old daughter and her husband, Carl, who seems perfect as a father, but is he?
Compelling flawed characters
Alison cannot seem to end her affair, and she tries to stop drinking too, but to no avail. After a particularly heavy drinking session which ends in her chambers with her lover, she blacks out and is found there in the morning by Carl and her daughter, Matilda.
The reader is lured into feeling sorry for Carl, but can’t quite like him as he is very self-righteous. He undermines Alison in the home with both her cooking and parenting skills and makes her feel unable to cope with family life. Having no clearly likeable character to root for, Tyce adds another layer of discomfort to the story.
A domestic noir
As her marriage starts to unravel, Alison is offered her first murder case representing a wealthy woman, Madeline, who has stabbed her domestically abusive husband to death in their home. But as with the rest of Alison’s life, this case is by no means straightforward. There is more behind the murder than a crime of self-defence, and the blurred lines of all the relationships surrounding this incident begin to emerge. Alison starts receiving disturbing anonymous texts about Patrick, which threaten their relationship and the murder case and the rest of the story begins to unfold.
An incredibly impactful novel, especially for a debut, this book is easy to read in terms of language and is written in the present tense which aids in the building of suspense. If you’re a fan of contemporary thrillers that are full of tension throughout, and have a strong stomach, then I definitely recommend Blood Orange.
– Review by Vanessa Connell, Executive Assistant
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Have you read Blood Orange? What’s your favourite thriller book? Let us know in the comments below.