Book Review

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

A witness but no victim. A crime but no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect… and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

Blood Red City is one of those novels that I started reading and then couldn’t put down.  It’s utterly compelling and I raced through it desperate to know what the outcome would be. 

One element that I especially enjoyed is the characterisation, and Lydia Wright in particular comes across as being realistic and easy to relate to.  A journalist, she’s been relegated to showbiz and the gossip columns when she continues to pursue a story after being warned off.  When she is sent a video of a man being attacked – possibly murdered – on the tube, she sees an opportunity to prove herself and revive her career, and continues even as things begin to get out of hand.  I love her tenacity – she’s in way over her head, but while she is clearly daunted, even afraid at times, she keeps going anyway.  Her reactions and responses to these situations are realistic – we see her fear, anger, and tears as she begins to understand exactly what she’s getting into, and she remains believable throughout.  At the same time, we see her more personal struggles as she grapples with the issues that most of us have faced at some point – making ends meet, whether she’s in the right career etc. She comes across as being a genuine individual who’s doing her best in less than perfect circumstances just like the rest of us. 

The second protagonist is the decidedly shady figure of Michael Stringer.  His role – he claims – is one of “corporate intelligence” although in reality he seems to be someone who manufactures blackmail material to motivate someone to do something on behalf of whoever is paying him at the time. If that’s corporate intelligence, so be it.  As such, he works with some dodgy individuals and yet he doesn’t seem all bad despite the decidedly murky world he operates in.  He treats his work as exactly that – work – and doesn’t let the worst parts of his job bother him.  I wasn’t sure what to make of Stringer at first – particularly as he begins to take a rather sinister interest in Lydia and the video she’s been sent – and it is fascinating to see this character develop in unexpected ways as the novel progresses. 

Blood Red City is a dark and gritty thriller that throws you in at the deep end and the pace doesn’t let up for a second.  I love the hook as the reader – alongside Lydia – has obvious questions about the incident on the tube.  Who is the victim, and why is no one missing him?  How has the incident been kept so quiet, with not even a hint of it in the media?  Who is the witness, and what has happened to them?  Lydia feels compelled to investigate and I was right there with her, wanting to know more.   It’s a mission that will take Lydia and the reader down some unexpected routes as Reynolds adds a few twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes and providing some fascinating insight into the potential for corruption in financial trading.  It’s a brilliant read – I was gripped throughout and highly recommend it. 

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