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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Blog Tour and Book Review: Blood On His Hands by Ian McFadyen

Blood On His Hands

When a stranger enters DI Carmichael’s local church, with blood on his hands claiming to have committed a murder, Carmichael and his team are quickly summoned.

And when the man disappears, as mysteriously as he arrived, with few clues to his identity, where he came from and where he went, Carmichael quickly realises that all may not be as it seems.

The conundrum becomes even more puzzling when, in less than 24 hours, a corpse is discovered in the boot of a Bentley car down a quiet country lane.

As the body count rises Carmichael and his team remain confounded as to who is behind the murders and what motive they have for taking so many lives. In this, the eighth gripping murder mystery from the pen of Ian McFadyen, the author once again captivates the reader with an array of beguiling characters tightly woven within an intriguing, skilfully scripted plot.

It will keep you guessing right until the end...

My Review:

The eighth book in the DCI Carmichael series, Blood On His Hands starts off with a mystery; a man with bloodied hands running into a church and confessing to the vicar that he’s just committed a murder before disappearing. When the man turns up dead himself, DCI Carmichael knows something strange is going wrong, but with a mounting body count, he and his team are under pressure to solve the case before the killer strikes again.

Ian MacFadyen writes in an almost breathless style, with very short chapters which keep the action moving through the book. There are several subplots I didn’t quite see the point of at first, but the author does a very nice job of bringing a lot of disparate threads back in and tying it all together to make sense at the end.

I haven’t read any of the earlier books in this series and this might be something of an issue here, because I didn’t feel that we really got a good feel for Carmichael’s character, or indeed any of his team, really. The one member of the team who was set up to appear less than competent got to play the hero in the end, unexpectedly, which felt inconsistent, and we got to see very little of anyone’s inner thoughts, including Carmichael’s, which left me feeling rather detached from the story.

I also think the book needs a solid line editor. The author seems to have taken to heart the adage ‘said is dead’ and done his best to cut all incidences of the word out of the book, even in very dialogue-heavy chapters featuring conversations between members of the detective team. The problem with this approach is that ‘said’ is actually an invisible word to most fiction readers; we don’t notice it, but when the author contrives to replace every incidence of it with other dialogue tags, the text begins to feel clumsy and contrived.

As an exercise, I picked one short chapter - chapter 30 - and did a count on the dialogue tags. Not a single ‘said’, but there were 8 ‘replied’, 4 ‘announced’, 3 each of ‘remarked’ and ‘enquired’, two ‘continued’ and one each of ‘suggested’, ‘observed’, ‘confirmed’, ‘told her’ and ‘instructed’. In a four-page chapter, it was noticeable and awkward, especially when characters were replying to replies, and though there were a few ‘saids’ in the book, they were far outnumbered by all those other tags. If it’s noticeable enough to pull the reader out of the text, as it did me, then there’s a problem which needs to be addressed.

Despite a solid plot and a couple of interesting twists, the deficiences in characterisation and the editing problems mean I can’t give this more than three stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via Rachel’s Random Resources.

Author Bio –

Ian McFadyen lives in Bishops Stortford, Herts and has published seven books in the Carmichael series so far. McFadyen has built up a strong following and is particularly well supported by library borrowers – being positioned in the top 10% of most loaned authors in the last few years. Favourably mentioned alongside Wilkie Collins and Colin Dexter, McFadyen’s titles are all available in paperback and on kindle.

Social Media Links – & Twitter @ianMcFadyen1

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