Judith Sullivan is a writer in Leeds, originally from Baltimore. She is working on a crime series set in Paris. Fluent in French, she’s pretty good with English and has conversational Italian and German. She is working to develop her Yorkshire speak.
Wow! What a concept to have a narrator heroine in the grip of a heroin addiction. This is gripping stuff. During In Her Blood,new investigator on the London block, Catherine Berlin, tries to solve a bizarre case while also dealing with her own medical need for the prescribed heroin doled out by one Doctor George Lazenby (and yes the 007 jokes are dealt with speedily).
To make matters even hairier, not only is one of Catherine’s informants dispatched with early on, but the good doctor also meets a grisly demise early on. The two deaths may or may not be linked but for both Berlin heighten her already edgy and jumpy state. At 55, she is neither glamorous nor lovely, not physically tough or adept at the one-liners that so often define such detectives. But she is as determined to discover the truth of the killings as she in getting her fix and she is the star of this show, cleverer than any of the cops or robbers or victims she encounters.
Another star of this show is London, a “cantankerous beast” defined by crowded tube lines, foggy nights, seedy pubs and an underworld of loan sharks, druggies and shady City types. Hauxwell resides in Australia, according to the dust jacket, but her recall of the Big Smoke is spot on. It is grimy place in Berlin’s view, sordid and dangerous. There is no camaraderie between investigator Berlin and the cops she must work with. In fact, she has few friends or allies and this suits her character perfectly.
The actual (and extremely shocking) reason for the murder of the Juliet Bravo informant character at the heart of the plot did not completely ring true to this reader. This is a minor quibble, however, with a story of over seven horrific days, cleverly truncated into 83 short chapters that beautifully reflect Berlin’s choppy, scared, hurtling journey towards finding the culpable parties.
This Berlin is a shining city indeed despite her lanky grey-blonde hair and slim frame and we look forward to her next adventure, this one called A Bitter Taste. In the new book the chill of In Her Blood’s February gives way, we are told, to a sweltering midsummer. In either season, we want to protect her from herself and from the elements, and follow her as she unmasks the baddies.