Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favorites.
This week I’ve chosen “Blood in the water” by Gillian Galbraith for my Throwback Thursday post. It was first published in January 2007 and was, for me, a 5 star read.
“Blood in the water” introduces Alice Rice, a single, lonely, disillusioned Edinburgh police detective. The setting of the novel is like the cover, cold, dark and wet — Edinburgh in December.
Alice lives for her work. She has no close friends or love interests. Her only companion is her dog Quill, whom she leaves with a neighbour when she is working. The neighbour is elderly, paranoid and sinking into dementia. Also in the novel, are Alice’s ill but very dedicated female boss DCI Bell and her nemesis who ‘annoys her beyond endurance’, DI Eric Mason.
The title “Blood in the water” refers to the journalists who, like sharks circling, pester the detectives whilst they attempt to conduct murder investigations. (p. 72) Of course the reader can have other interpretations… that is the joy of fiction.
Unlike other mystery novels where the victims are unknown to the reader, this novel introduces each of the murder victims and fleshes them out enough for the reader to be invested in them. The reader then takes it personally when they are seemingly senselessly murdered.
The victims are, all but one, professional people. An esteemed women surgeon, and two lawyers one male and one female. The exception seems to be Sammy McBryde, who is a ‘jobbing gardener’. What links these victims?
The author, Gillian Galbraith, is an advocate turned author. Advocate is the term used for lawyer in Scotland. There are many legal passages in the novel which will be confusing to the uninitiated, as the legal system in Scotland seems vastly different to that with which we are accustomed. However, don’t let that deter you from reading the novel, as the writing overall is very entertaining.
Galbraith has a knack of making all of the characters sympathetic. I found myself liking them all…. even the murderer…. Oh dear!
I first reviewed this novel on Fictionophile in late 2010. It is the first Alice Rice mystery of a mystery series which now is comprised of six titles. Highly recommended.
Alice Rice Mystery Series
1. Blood in the Water (2007)
2. Where the Shadow Falls (2007)
3. Dying of the Light (2009)
4. No Sorrow to Die (2010)
5. The Road to Hell (2012)
6. Troubled Waters (2014)
Gillian Galbraith is a former advocate (lawyer). Born in Perthshire but raised in Haddington, she studied at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee and became a journalist, writing horoscopes for the Dundee Courier and as an agony aunt for a teenage magazine. In 1986 she retrained as a solicitor, and worked for 17 years as an advocate specialising in medical negligence cases.
Galbraith continued to write, and was the legal correspondent for The Scottish Farmer and has written for The Times. Following the birth of her daughter in 1999 she started writing fiction, and her first crime novel Blood in the Water was published in 2007. She has now written six crime novels featuring Edinburgh-based DS Alice Rice (who is based at St Leonards Police Station, the same as Ian Rankin’s DI Rebus).
Gillian Galbraith now lives near Kinross with her family and a number of farmyard animals.