Ashley Dyer

Splinter in the Blood

"This is thriller writing at its best."


DS Ruth Lake stands over DCI Greg Carver with a gun. Did she shoot her boss? And if not, why is she removing evidence from his apartment?

Lake and Carver are on the hunt for a serial killer who carefully poses his victims and covers every inch of their bodies in intricate, cryptic tattoos. Dubbed the ‘Thorn Killer’ by the media, he uses a primitive and excruciatingly painful method to make these marks. Then it gets personal: the killer stages his latest victim to look like Carver’s wife.

Lake is convinced that Carver knows more than he admits. But how can she hope to unravel the half-truths, hidden meanings, secrets and lies at the centre of this investigation when she herself has lied and lied?

Intrigued, the Thorn Killer watches their every move - all the while plotting the next. Can Carver and Lake pull together to catch him before he strikes again? Or will they be held captive by their own web of lies?

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‘Splinter in the Blood’ is the first in a new series of novels by critically acclaimed psychological thriller writer Margaret Murphy, writing as Ashley Dyer. This time Murphy is partnered with Helen Pepper, an ex-forensic scientist who now lectures on policing - and this new series is off to a powerful and gripping start. We are introduced to DS Ruth Lake who we meet standing over her boss with a smoking gun in her hand. Can we trust the protagonist as she starts to clean her boss’s home of fingerprints? Is this a corrupt detective? If so, what games is she playing, and why? From the very start we are questioning everyone and their motive. That’s what makes this such a gripping read. Who do we trust? Who is lying? If you’re a fan of ‘Line of Duty’, you’re going to love this. The serial killer at the centre of the story is original and dangerous. Dyer has researched her story well and that oozes out of the confident prose. So enraptured in the story, I was actually dreaming about it. That has never happened to me before. This is thriller writing at its best. The relationship between the two leads is natural and professional. The dialogue never feels forced and the whole story flows with the natural acts of the characters rather than stilted set pieces for the sake of entertainment. There are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing and the reveal is both satisfying and exciting. ‘Splinter in the Blood’ is a dark, disturbing story with an ingenious plot. This feels like a series you will want to devour.

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