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Lifeblood
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 19 September 2010
Karen Taylor is a forensic psychologist and is brought in by the Ministry of Justice to conduct a study on the statistical probability of convicted rapists to attack again. When she meets handsome, charming and clever Randall Gyre, she is convinced he shouldn't be allowed out in the community - and then the people who put him in prison the first time start to die...

This is the second in the series which started with No Escape and isn't quite as good. There are enormous coincidences in the plot which have to be contrived to bring the whole thing together, and some of the relationships feel unthought through (Charlie's friendship with Sally? His protection of Annie?). It wasn't made clear why Annie was a potential suspect and, when the perpetrator is revealed, it still doesn't make sense that some of his/her victims just sat there and carried on eating breakfast/watching TV while he roved around their rooms.

That said, I like Karen Taylor and her relationships with the men in her lives. I didn't find her opaque, unlike another reviewer, perhaps because the first book gives us quite a lot to build on? So this isn't quite as good as the first in the series but it is sufficiently gripping to while away a few hours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2011
I have enjoyed all Ms Cooper's books. They are very well written and usually well plotted. She has good insight into people psychology and, in her earlier books, characters and plots seem more credible than is normal for this genre.

Lifeblood is the second novel in the Karen Taylor series. It's gripping enough, and I didn't guess the who dunnit until the last chapter. However, unlike most of Ms Cooper's previous novels, I could easily just read a chapter or two and put the book down. I was curious to know the outcome, but not desperately engaged.

The story is interesting enough, but it is let down by too many coincidences, some obvious red herrings and the motivation of the eventual killer seeming contrived. I agree with the reviewer who said Karen Taylor was weakly drawn in this book. Charlie Trench was also weakly characterised. They seemed more like narrative and plot devices rather than central characters. These inconsistencies in character and behaviour are unusual for Ms Cooper, and I hope this one is a blip.
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Karen Taylor is an academic psychologist at the University of Southampton and a consultant forensic psychologist to the UK's Department of Justice. She made her debut in No Escape, set on the Isle of Wight, a location that features heavily in this second outing. As the book opens, Karen is to interview Randall Gyre, on probation after being convicted of attacking a young woman some years before. The interview is part of a project of Karen's, in which she aims to see if it is possible to predict whether released violent criminals will re-offend.

Gyre is a charming psychopathic type. Karen warns her bosses that he should never have been released, to no avail. Before long, he has failed to turn up to his probation appointments and cannot be found. Then, a policeman is discovered, murdered in his flat. Is Gyre now attacking those who he holds responsible for his conviction, or is the death unrelated? Karen, inevitably, becomes more involved in this case as it escalates, advising both her rather unpleasant superiors at the department, and the police as they investigate an increasing number of possibly related crimes.

Lifeblood is a brisk novel with a solid plot - though I correctly guessed the identity of the villain right from this person's first appearance in the book. Even so, the theme of violence against women, and the subsequent difficulty of getting rape charges to court, and the even greater difficulty of obtaining a conviction, are well-depicted, mainly by sections about one or two of Gyre's previous victims and what they've done with their lives since.

In Karen's personal life, as before, she is torn between handsome, nice but boring boyfriend Will, and handsome, nice but less boring police officer Charlie. After two books this dithering is becoming a bit tiresome, so I hope Karen makes up her mind in the next one. The university scenes are well-done, as is the subplot about the run-down chalet on the island owned by Karen's family - which could intersect with the Gyre investigation by a route unanticipated by Karen or the police. Apart from her romantic dithering, Karen is an attractive, independent protagonist, whose professional interactions are invariably interesting to read. The patronising, buck-passing attitude of her male senior colleagues makes the blood boil, but she deals with them by refusing to be pushed around, doing her job well and showing them up. I look forward to reading about her next case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2011
I bought 'Lifeblood' immediately after reading 'No Escape'. It is a follow-on novel to 'No Escape' but unfortunately not up to the same standard as its predecessor. I took it with me as a holiday read but found it disappointing, a bit of a slog. Home two days from a four week holiday and have just now finished it. The story line promised much but failed to deliver and clunked to an unlikely and unsatisfactory conclusion. Shame really.
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on 11 February 2015
A riveting read really getting to look forward to this author's books the stories are well written and though I've never been to the isle of Wight I won't need. A map if I do go.
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on 9 January 2015
Superb - I really enjoy N.J. Cooper's books having read them all, and hope there will be more in the pipeline.
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on 1 December 2014
2nd book in this series and I was pulled into it from the first page. Can't wait to read the next.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
To be honest the blurb on this offering really makes you want to get started very quickly, however that said, I did feel that whilst the overall arc was very pleasing, the principle protagonista was pretty weak. I just couldn't get a handle upon her contradictory nature that felt that the author didn't understand her very well either. Leaving that to one side, the dialogue was reasonable, the other cast members believable and there was an addictive way in which the author took you by the hand through the tale. But as many readers are already aware if you can't grasp the lead character it doesn't matter how well the offering is written the reader is left partially in limbo. A great shame and something that I hope the author will fix in future offerings.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2011
Convincing characters, good plot, intriguing and attractive settings (tho' that's a subjective view of course) - generally a thoroughly enjoyable read. NJCooper now firmly on the list for future pleasures.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2013
I thoroughly enjoy N Cooper's thrillers, the plots keep me guessing and the characters are brilliantly written. This book was no exception!
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