Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Matter of Blood

Let's see, how to describe A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough? It came to life, is all there really is too it. Three plots that interweave seamlessly and believably, a character who is normal and extraordinary all at the same time and you feel his pain and his wants, and a crisp setting that leaves dirt under your fingernails. Normally a story so fucked up could only be true, like the unbelievable stories you hear about on the news, but thankfully this one is stuck on paper. I've had this book for two years now, and I can't believe I am finally getting around to it. I started it once, got about halfway, then stopped. I don't know why, but it was right after college and I was giving up on a lot of books around then. I'm glad I finally got to finish it this time, because it was awesome and I can't wait to get to the rest of the trilogy.

You can follow Sarah Pinborough on her blog and twitter. Since her books aren't available in America yet (for shame!) you should get them at I think AMOB is set to release Fall 2013 in the US, but I could be wrong. I first discovered these books on EBR, and since they absolutely raved about the first book and then about the second and third books, I knew I had to read them.

A synopsis, from BD:
The recession has left the world exhausted. Crime is rising; financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world's wealthiest men. But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he's haunted by the deeds of his past, and he's got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve - not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies. Then Cass Jones' personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide—leaving Cass implicated in their deaths. And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it's time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself—only to discover that all three cases are linked... As Jones is forced to examine his own family history, three questions keep reappearing: What disturbed his brother so badly in his final few weeks? Who are the shadowy people behind The Bank? And, most importantly, what do they want with DI Cass Jones?

The reason I love series so much is that they give you such a window into the character's life that you can't help but fall in love with them. Even if they are despicable. You have time to see the mundane and the extreme, and watching a character interact in the calm scenes is all the more interesting after you just watched them be a badass in a previous scene. And when I say love, it's not love in the kissy-kissy sense, but more in love with the idea of them because they are so real. Cass Jones is one of these characters. He is not snarky, he is not charming, he's in a loveless marriage and he doesn't give a damn. He's done some very despicable things that would make you turn away in disgust if you ever met him in the flesh. As a matter of fact, his past would make any normal person walk quickly away and thank their lucky stars that they survived the encounter with such a rogue. He is that awful person who should have gone to prison for life but instead got off on a technicality.

This is what really makes Cass so wonderful: his all-consuming guilt over what happened in his past makes you feel for him before you ever find out what he did, and later, when everything comes to the surface, you are already emotionally invested in him and his past doesn't matter anymore. Cass has a classic case of guilt: he's trying not to think about it, but he can't avoid it. While most people don't have such a doozy in their past, everyone can relate to soul-eating guilt. Cass is a normal person just trying to do some good at his job, who gets wrapped up in all kinds of crazy and can barely handle it. The all-night benders with booze and drugs and girls are testament to that.

But the real genius of this book is way the plot threads fit together. There are three: the serial murders, the shooting of the two schoolboys, and his brother's suicide, and when they come together (as you know they will) it is awesome and it makes sense and you can tell that Pinborough put a lot of thought into finding something that wasn't obvious. It was very similar to V for Vendetta, regarding the plot threads, and that's awesome, because you all know by now that V is one of my favorite movies ever, so naturally I think this book rocks.

I was having a really hard time writing this review for three days now (I finished the book on Monday) because the only coherent sentences I could make were all just variations of OMG AWESOME READ IT OMG WHAT, but add a bottle of beer and daaaamn those words just start flowing. In sentences, no less! Thought I'd share.

I was very appreciative of the setting: it was unique and it added flavor and color to the book, but it wasn't overwhelming. There are very few people who can entertain me with drawn out descriptions of stuff (Tolkien is not one of those people. Elizabeth Kostova is.) but this book found the right balance, and the descriptions were very tailored to the character, which is awesome. We read what Cass noticed, mainly, the buildings, and the architecture. An old friend told Cass to "keep looking up," and it's something that recurs throught the book in a very sweet way. It's nice to see that Cass has a soft spot for something. Too bad it isn't other people. (But then, he's a cop, so I guess he does have a soft spot for other people.)

It's really hard to find generic things to talk about that shows you the awesome without giving away the awesome. Really, you should just read it. It's a thriller and a horror and it's interesting to have a valiant main character who is so wracked by his guilt. It really affects everything he does, every day, but he still finds ways to cope. Not the best ways, but still. Ways.

I will mention that I loved the loyalty between the characters. And not necessarily between the cops, although I did love the relationship between Cass and Ramsay. Alsoooo with the other guy who owns the bar and is supposed to be against the cops but helps out Cass but I can't remember his name right now. I liked him a lot too.

If you like really gritty books with dark protagonists you'll love this book. This is the horror/thriller equivalent of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. Honestly, this is a lot darker than Scott Lynch. I don't really think the Gentleman Bastards books are all that dark, really, because they are all frilly and goofy and they wear expensive clothes. Sure people die, but people die in Nicholas Sparks book all the time and no one calls those books dark and gritty.

Well, this review turned into rambling real fast. =] So much for the brilliant beer idea. Well. Read this book!

The next book in the series is The Shadow of the Soul ( BD | GR | EBR ), and the final one is The Chosen Seed ( BD | GR | EBR ). I just love these UK covers! I can't wait to get my copies. Technically the paperback of CS isn't out until November, but that's okay because I have lots of other books to get to on my TBR pile, even though I would really like to keep going with this series. But I made my plan! STICK to the fucking PLAN. I think marathoning these books would be a bad idea though, I'll end up all depressed like after watching a marathon of Law and Order. You start the day with knitting and hot tea and by the end of the marathon you're in your underwear with a cigarette in one hand and vodka in the other. Oh, that's just me? Nevermind then.

Fall Reading List:
A Matter of Blood - Sarah Pinborough (The Dog-Faced Gods #1)
The Timekeeper - Mitch Albom
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
The Casual Vacancy - J. K. Rowling
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War #1)
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking Trilogy #1)
Swan Song - Robert McCammon
Brood of Bones - A. E. Marling
Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey (Expanse Series #1)
Gojiro - Mark Jacobson

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