Michael J. Malone - Blood Tears
"A bold and dazzling debut"
DI Ray McBain investigates a killing that is anything but straightforward. This was no run-of-the-mill stabbing or shooting – the victim displays wounds that can only be associated with the Stigmata. Do they have a religious maniac on their doorstep re-enacting the Crucifixion? But it doesn’t end there for McBain. The man is identified as a paedophile and he once worked at Bethlehem House – the foster home run by nuns where McBain himself stayed as a child. And it was there that he had his worse experiences of pain and humiliation.
McBain should have told his colleagues of his association and stepped down from the case – but he feels this case is personal and he wants to know if his past is catching up with him. It already has for the man who stalked the children of Bethlehem House for his sexual needs. And then the proverbial hits the fan. McBain is arrested on suspicion of murder and with the help of his colleagues, Rossi and Drain he goes on the run to clear his name, but soon more bodies turn up and McBain couldn’t even begin to imagine that the truth lay so close to his own past. And that doesn’t even begin to explain his horrendous nightmares – the dying man and the white feathers…
‘Blood Tears’ is the debut crime novel from poet and Crimesquad reviewer, Michael Malone. You can tell from reading this book that it is shot through with some beautiful, lyrical prose, like rose petals embedded in a cushion of blood tainted thorns. But as with most poetry, amongst the dark there is light and as with most crime fiction, there is a sprinkling of humour to lift it from the shadows even if for a mere moment. And it is the true hand of a craftsman that can make a reader smirk at something witty when darkness is encroaching.
Malone has peppered his novel with memorable characters, leading the reader to feel more for them, making them more human with failings. I loved the double act of Kenny and Calum, the spiv and his heavy and I hope that we will see them again in the near future. Rossi and Drain are great foils for McBain, sticking out their necks while he clears his name. And as for McBain – this detective does have baggage, but that is explained as the novel progresses, and despite a short diversion in ‘Alcohol Alley’ we have a cop that isn’t a drunk which is, unlike the liquor, quite refreshing.
Bethlehem House looms large in the crux of the plot like a heavy, malevolent presence with the sinister nuns dishing out their sick punishment to their charges. ‘Blood Tears’ is not for the faint-hearted but is an addictive thriller that has more twists, turns and blind alleys than a labyrinth. Malone is a strong newcomer to the Scottish crime scene and his fellow, McBain is a grand edition to the crime fiction genre. ‘Blood Tears’ is a bold and dazzling debut.
Reviewed by: C.S.