32) Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
This one had been lying dormant on the Kindle for a while, and a holiday seemed as good a time as any to see whether it was as thrilling as some of the reviews had suggested. It’s a bit like Anatomy of a Scandal or Apple Tree Yard meets one of those psychological thrillers that are so in vogue at the moment.
Alison has it all – a successful lawyer, a husband and child, a high profile new case. But of course she doesn’t, and we soon find that she is far from perfect, and the rest of it is far from perfect as well; and the case has its oddities and mysteries about it as well. I liked Alison a lot as a character, despite her foibles and mistakes, and was rooting for her throughout – and there’s plenty for her to get through.
What makes the thriller more interesting than some, perhaps, is the focus on relationship dynamics and the power dynamics between genders particularly – indeed, some have labelled this ‘#metoo noir’. I think that’s a bit reductive, but it is the theme of the book in many ways: the murder case revolves around possible domestic violence; Alison’s therapist husband Carl is weirdly unlikeable and controlling (whilst running his men’s groups); and the law chambers are riven by inappropriate sexual behaviour that spills over into criminal activity
It’s all nicely done, and I was gripped in the last hundred pages particularly. The pacing is excellent, and the story engaging. The only let down was some odd and slightly clunky gear-change events in the plot in the last section – some were predictable, but others felt oddly out of place or far too neat. Nevertheless, I’d happily lap up another Harriet Tyce thriller on a holiday: this was good stuff.