A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…
When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?
The Tattoo Thief was published on the 3rd May 2018 by Trapeze. Many thanks to the publisher and Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Reads for inviting me onto this blog tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley for this review.
The Tattoo Thief is a brilliant take on the classic police procedural – a killer who is takes away a piece of his victim in the form of their tattoo…gruesome!
DI Francis Sullivan is newly promoted and feels that he has something to prove considering his rapid ascent up the career ladder at a young age. What he wasn’t anticipating was that his promotion would have to start early when local tattooist, Marni Mullins finds a body outside a pavilion where a tattoo convention is being held.
Marni is desperate from the outset to not get herself involved with the police and therefore tries to remain anonymous when she reports what she has found…but that doesn’t last for long and Marni finds herself being drawn into the investigation more and more. Marni is a strong and likeable character, she really knows her stuff about tattoos and the community which results in her being an important resource to Sullivan’s investigation. Marnie and Sullivan are an interesting combination but get on brilliantly, they compliment each other in ways that, on paper, don’t seem possible.
As well as the investigation, both Marni and Sullivan have things going on in their lives which brings their character’s to life. In addition, Sullivan in having to prove himself to both his team as well as his boss. The dynamics between Sullivan and his DS, Rory Mackay, who is both more experienced and older than Sullivan makes for interesting reading.
The Tattoo Thief is certainly gripping and will keep its reader guessing throughout. I spent the majority of the book trying to work out the MO as well as who the individual was until I had the light-bulb moment as to their identity. I must say, and the clue is in the title, that this book is not for the faint hearted! There are some gruesome scenes but are entirely necessary both for the plot and the authenticity of the killer. It is certainly a clever story which is well plotted out with strong characters in both Marni and Sullivan.
Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.