Bloodstream | Luca Veste | 2015 | Simon & Schuster | 470p | Review copy | Buy the book
Reality TV stars Chloe Morrison and Joe Hooper might have thought they had it all – fame, money, beauty – but ‘ChloJoe’ are to be murdered by a killer obsessed with secrets and lies. Their bodies are found sitting opposite to each other, another room in the house transformed into a shrine to the glamorous couple. Joe has been tortured and strangled, Chloe simply put to sleep. DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi find themselves at the centre of a media frenzy but any idea that this a one-off celebrity murder are soon put to rest when another slaughtered couple are discovered, and then another. It seems that Liverpool’s finest have a struggle on their hands, made even worse when the killer realises that he rather likes the taste of fame himself.
Murphy has other worries on his mind, too. The disappearance of young woman Amy Maguire is threatening to distract him from the hunt for the serial killer. Murphy knows Amy’s mother and now he worries that he might be searching for none other than his own daughter. The impact of a recent case lies heavy on his mind. He cannot allow Amy to be hurt.
Bloodstream is the third Murphy and Rossi novel from Luc Veste and it is an engrossing one from its opening gripping chapter. I regret to say that I wasn’t able to finish the first novel, Dead Gone, largely because of the personal back history of Murphy which I found – and many disagree with me – overwhelmed the book completely. I cared enough for Veste’s writing to want to read Bloodstream and I’m so pleased that I did. Murphy’s history hasn’t gone away but he has moved further from it. Earlier cases do haunt him (not surprisingly), but the time has come to pick up the pieces, and that process is ongoing here. Laura Rossi also comes more into her own in Bloodstream. She is even more likeable here and is the perfect foil to Murphy, giving him the opportunity to share a joke and drink or two. They’re a great partnership and now fully established. I should mention, though, that you should either read Bloodstream in its place in the series or not worry about finding out from it what happened earlier.
The story is thoroughly entertaining. The killer’s narrative pops up here and there, giving us a glimpse into this truly strange and terrifying soul. The identity of the murderer and the developing shape of the novel did follow an expected pattern but this didn’t matter – they were dealt with very well indeed and I loved how it played out. The tension builds, intensified by the media circus and the resulting pressure handed down by Murphy’s superiors. There is such a strong sense of the clock ticking and an increasing horror at the killer’s audacity and outrages. He cannot stop killing. The role of the general public in the case is fascinating as is the author’s treatment of social media – the role of Twitter, in particular, in the creation of, and hunt for, a killer.
I loved the Liverpool setting. I spent many days as a teenager there and it’s so good to see its character and locations brought to life on the page. The influence of the city on Murphy and his colleagues is strong and the spirit of the place has such an evocative presence in the novel. Bloodstream is undoubtedly a pageturner. It’s a substantial novel but one I had no trouble devouring in a couple of entertaining days. Luca Veste writes so well and I look forward to following the series into the future.