Blood Rush

Blood Rush by Helen Black

Blood Rush is one of those books you’ll either love or hate and although I wasn’t immediately drawn to the book, partly due to the cover design and partly due to the gang culture that was the overwhelming key element of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Very well written, Blood Rush is a pacey crime thriller that centres on drug and gang related issues. The tone is set in the opening prologue when a young girl (Malaya), out on a gang initiation (or jump in), is brutally beaten up and left in a coma. Lying in the hospital with life threatening injuries, with her small and dysfunctional family for support, an investigation is launched when the chief superintendent proclaims he has had just about enough of the gang warfare in Luton.

The UK is gripped by the threat of gang violence – the media is building on that hysteria, convincing us that knife crime is rife and the streets are flooded with guns and drugs. So when a member of a notorious girl gang is charged with a brutal murder, sympathy is in short supply. Enter Lilly Valentine, a tough talking lawyer who is never prepared to take things at face value and is determined to uncover the truth, whatever the cost.

A gripping crime novel that will force every reader to reassess what they think they know about society and gang culture.

Although I’ve touched on it briefly the book jacket made me laugh a little. Every time I looked at the blonde woman in the background I couldn’t, for some unknown reason, get Ulrika Johnson out of my head – a much younger version granted! It’s not the most attractive of book covers but I think I know why – the subject matter isn’t fantasy, this isn’t some glossy Malibu crime thriller – this is grit pure and simple. Faced with an epidemic of violence, drugs and a teenage knife culture we can’t seem to shake, the cover portrays a rather gritty, seedy side to life. If that was the artist’s intention then they succeeded – pick this book up and you know you are ready for a fight – a street fight.

Blood Rush is published by Robinson and available in Paperback and Kindle

The narrative is sharp and by using long chapters and quick scene changes Helen Black creates a nonstop edgy thriller that leaves little to the imagination. There are very few moments of hilarity and colour in this book (apart from when Lilly is caught working in her office in her pyjamas) – it’s a story of survival against the odds, a family born out of necessity, loyalty and choice – not by birth – and a lawyer who has turned her back on teenage cases, preferring the milder divorce cases, drawn back into the murky waters of family law.

I found it hard to put the book down to be honest and read the book in two sittings – it just hooks you in and considering its pace you’re always faced with the dilemma of “just one more page”. There’s little doubt that the main protagonist is Lilly Valentine – who I’m led to believe is a recurring female lead in Black’s previous work – and she carries of this mantle effortlessly. She is no nonsense maverick lawyer who refuses to take no for an answer, not from a judge and certainly not from the father of her new born baby Alice – Jack – who happens to be the lead investigator and opponent in the case.

Black’s command of court room etiquette and dialogue is clearly evident and she utilises her background as a lawyer to full effect and emotion. As a purveyor of all things courtroom the cross examinations and tussles with the judges rang true but it was the emotive street language and encounters on the deprived estate that won me over.  In a society where knife crime is certainly on the increase and rarely a week goes by when we don’t hear of another teenage victim gunned down, Blood Rush is well placed to add a fictitious commentary to these issues.

A thoroughly enjoyable crime thriller, Black binds the various story arcs together delivering a bleak and thought provoking novel.  It just goes to show – never judge a book by its cover!

Blood Rush is published by Robinson and available in Paperback and Kindle

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