Blood Rites is a Northern thriller set in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in the 1980s featuring Detective Inspector Paul Snow. DI Paul Snow has a personal secret. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force of the time. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, Snow is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons?
Blood Rites was published on the 9th October. Many thanks to Urbane for having me on the blog tour and providing me with my copy of the book for this review.
Blood Rites is actually the third book in the DI Paul Snow series but can most definitely be read as a standalone.
Whilst this is a police procedural with Snow investigating the murders of four individuals, I felt that this book was more of an exploration of Snow’s sexuality and the lies that he has to live to order to keep his career on an upwards trajectory. Remembering that this is the 1980’s, Snow is unable to really admit to himself that he is homosexual let alone live an openly gay life. This just wasn’t the done thing in this era, especially for a member of the police force of any rank.
The book opens with a Police function whereby Snow is taking along a plus one in the form of Matilda who he has been dating for 3 months. Snow enjoys Matilda’s company and knows that she wants to take their relationship to the next level however (understandably giving what we know!) he is not so keen on that himself! It is clear from these early scenes that Snow definitely separates his professional and personal life…..and then he has a private life that he keeps shut away completely!
Well, I say this is how the book opens, that is after a prologue set in December 1985 entitled ‘The End’ where a murderer is very calmly cleaning up his weapon of choice and putting it back in its rightful place as though they are just doing the washing up! The relaxed and blasé nature of the murderer is so chilling! The main narrative then focuses on the events of the 3 months leading up to this scene.
The murder victims arrive in relatively quick succession to each other however there doesn’t seem to be any connection other than the fact that they are not the most desirable members of society! This results in a tough case for Snow to crack and he is receiving lots of pressure for an arrest. The reader has the privilege of understanding the murderer’s motives early on so is willing Snow to unearth the truth!
Blood Rites is an easy read both in its pacing and complexity which focuses on gut instinct of DI Snow (given the era) in order to investigate the murders.
David Stuart Davies is an author, playwright and editor. His fiction includes six novels featuring his wartime detective Johnny Hawke, Victorian puzzle solver artist Luther Darke, and seven Sherlock Holmes novels – the latest being Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper Legacy (2016). His non-fiction work includes Starring Sherlock Holmes, detailing the film career of the Baker Street sleuth. David has also penned a Northern Noir trilogy of gritty crime novels set in Yorkshire in the 1980s: Brothers in Blood, Innocent Blood and Blood Rites.
David is regarded as an authority on Sherlock Holmes and is the author of two Holmes plays, Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act and Sherlock Holmes: The Death and Life, which are available on audio CD. He has written the Afterwords for all the Collector’s Library Holmes volumes, as well as those for many of their other titles.
He is a committee member of the Crime Writers’ Association and edits their monthly publication Red Herrings. His collection of ghost and horror stories appeared in 2015, championed by Mark Gatiss who said they were ‘pleasingly nasty.’
David is General Editor of Wordsworth’s Mystery & Supernatural series and a past Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. He has appeared at many literary festivals and the Edinburgh Fringe performing his one man presentation The Game’s Afoot – an evening with Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle. He was recently made a member of The Detection Club.