Blood Orange is another of the books I was lucky enough to be given at the recent Headline #NewVoices2019 event in Edinburgh. It is the debut novel from Harriet Tyce who grew up in Edinburgh. It’s a book I’ve been seeing all over social media for some months and having read it, I’m sure it’s going to be a huge hit in 2019.
Blood Orange is part psychological thriller, part legal thriller and part domestic noir all wrapped up in one book. Alison is a barrister, successful but rather too fond of a drink and definitely neglecting her family. She is also having a torrid affair with a colleague which leaves her feeling partly disgusted with herself but also unable to stop. She is about to take on her first murder case and with the defendant keen to admit to the murder of her husband, it should be a straightforward case.
Blood Orange is a book which builds up a picture of the characters slowly. There is an intense and unsettling feel to the story from the first page. Alison is such a flawed character, quite frankly I didn’t really like her much. She just seems so willing to throw everything away for the buzz of wine and the high of illicit and rough sex. I felt so sorry for her daughter who was caught up in the crossfire of the disagreements and tension between her parents. It was only really through Alison’s dedication to her work and her determination to get to the bottom of the murder case, that I found any reason to have much respect for her. Many of the other characters, such as her colleague Patrick, were rather unappealing too.
And then the author turns everything on its head. I’m not going to give any spoilers of course but my goodness, how cleverly she slotted everything into place towards the end of the book and made me rethink everything I thought I knew about her characters. There were some surprising parallels between Alison’s life and her client’s life. In many ways. Alison was being controlled and used by the men in her life. I began to have a bit more sympathy for her situation though still despaired of many of the seemingly reckless choices she made. Ultimately, she wanted to feel valued and loved.
Blood Orange is a cracking debut novel from Harriet Tyce and one that had me gripped throughout. It is well paced, expertly plotted, unpredictable and quite simply a blooming good read.
My thanks to the publishers, Wildfire Books, for my review copy of this book. It will be published in hardback and as an ebook on Thursday this week, 21st February 2019. It will be available to buy or order from your usual book retailer or you can order a copy online here: Blood Orange
From the back of the book
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
About the author
Harriet Tyce was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 1994 with a degree in English Literature before gaining legal qualifications. She worked as a criminal barrister for ten years, leaving after the birth of her first child. She completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at UEA where she wrote Blood Orange, which is her first novel.