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Book DetailsISBN: 9780008412746
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Book Review: In Cold Blood by Jane Bettany - Reviewed by Sarah (12 Feb 2021)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading In Cold Blood by Jane Bettany (not to be confused with Truman Capote's classic non-fiction novel of the same name), a character-driven police procedural / mystery in the more traditional mould. D.I. Isabel Blood is an intuitive and competent detective, based in the (fictional) town of Bainbridge, Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. Siblings Amy and Paul Whitworth are in the process of renovating their first investment property, purchased with the proceeds of their late father's estate. When digging foundations for a new patio, Paul uncovers skeletal human remains. In the midst of a troubling parent-teacher interview with her husband, Bainbridge D.I. Isabel Blood receives a phone call summoning her to the crime scene. But this proves to be no run-of-the-mill murder investigation for D.I. Blood - the house where the discovery has been made is her own childhood home... Further complicating matters, and actually requiring her to take a step back from the investigation (which occurs all too rarely in crime fiction when such situations arise!), is the fact that her own father went missing from the home over forty years ago, never to be heard of again. From this wonderfully fraught premise, the novel unfolds as Blood's team begin sifting through the home's history and attempt to identify the skeleton. In Cold Blood doesn't sit in the dark, twisty thriller end of the genre - while by no means a "cosy mystery", it's more of a character drama, which brought to my mind the late P.D. James's style of writing (which I love). In the course of solving the historical mystery, the central character goes through her own catharsis, gradually uncovering and coming to terms with her family's hazy and rather complicated past. The supporting characters are well-developed and three-dimensional, from Isabel's stickybeak earstwhile neighbour to her small team of detectives and her family at home. Jane Bettany's depiction and understanding of relationships between characters makes this a fascinating read, over and above the main crime investigation plot. I found the pacing of the narrative appropriate to the style of the book, and realistic in the context of a modern team investigating an apparent historical crime. It's certainly not an edge-of-your seat action read, but enthralling in a more subtle way that rewards a thoughtful reader. In Cold Blood was a great read, and I hope that we'll see more of D.I. Isabel Blood in future titles. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy character-based mysteries, complex plots and slow-burn narratives. My thanks to the author, Jane Bettany, publisher HQ Digital (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers UK) and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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