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Updated: Nov 26, 2020

by Blaise Ramsay

Rating: ****

BloodLaw is set in Prohibition-era Chicago. It’s a savage, lawless city run by the Italian Mafia and Irish Gangs. Former Police Officer and Assistant District Attorney, Alastair Maddox is one of the few involved in Law Enforcement who is not corrupt. As a boy, he witnessed his family murdered by the mob and, resultingly, will stop at nothing to pursue Chicago lowlifes. However, when asked for assistance on a strange case, he meets the dangerous and compelling, Alexandra DeLane. DeLane is unlike any other suspect that Maddox has interrogated and she is about to gift him a terrifying new lease of life….

I found BloodLaw to be a good, page-turning thriller. I really enjoyed the 1920s Chicago setting, it was nicely-researched and worked with the storyline rather than just providing a backdrop. It also neatly complements the semi-characterisation of Alastair as the permanently rumpled and troubled investigator in the style of Chandler et al. The first-person narrative emphasised his tormented state of mind, giving an immediacy to the reader and also provoking sympathy.

The mental effect that DeLane has on Alastair in Part 1 is written so palpably and with such growing intensity that it genuinely makes you feel quite uncomfortable. I think Ms Ramsay writes the character of DeLane well; she could have veered off into cliché but, sensibly as this book forms the first in a series, more questions than answers are left. At first, I thought Mason Downing seemed a rather convenient character popping up from nowhere but he really comes into his own and became just as important as Alastair, providing a strong, humorous, down to earth foil to the increasingly paranormal world that Alastair becomes involved in. I found Charlie a little surplus and one-dimensional. Although her character does provide some necessary information to drive the plot on, I think she could have been utilised better.

The supernatural element of the storyline does not overshadow what, personally, is a gripping whodunnit. I believe it was a wise decision to forefront the human sleuthing aspect for the majority of the novel. The vampire angle remains interesting rather than becoming stale and predictable. There are a few imaginative leaps in the storyline that are a little implausible but the quick pace ensures you do not dwell on them and after all, this is a story involving vampires. I also found the prose a touch long-winded in places; reaching for the right words but using too many but Ms Ramsay does use some amusingly good metaphors, ‘eyes as shifty as a cheating rat in a poker game’ springs to mind.

BloodLaw is a self-assured, addictive read with an engrossing story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended.

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