12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Flawed but fantastic supernatural thriller,
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This review is from: A Matter Of Blood: The Dog-Faced Gods Trilogy (Hardcover)The world is in the grip of a terrible recession that has wrought havoc on society. Cuts in public services have been ruthless, unemployment is at record levels; crime endemic, and the remaining economy is in thrall to a secretive company known as The Bank. Despite the soaring crime stats even the police have not been spared a cut in their resources, and officers have improvised new ways to manage the crime lords.
D.I. Cass Jones is one such officer, and regardless of the difficult times he's a good copper - that is, he's good at his job. His moral character is far more questionable: he's a drug user, an adulterer, and he's carrying a huge burden of guilt from a past incident that went wrong whilst working deep undercover. If all this wasn't bad enough, he's currently investigating the murder of two school kids gunned down in an apparent gang related mishap, and a serial killer dubbed the Man of Flies is leaving a trail of dead women across London. Then to top it all off Cass learns that his brother is dead along with his brother's wife and child, and Cass himself is somehow implicated in their murder. All of these events are seemingly related, and they all point to the mysterious Bank.
This is a gritty thriller, that is part crime novel and part supernatural thriller, mixed with a dash of conspiracy. When I first started reading this book I had difficulties with it. It took me a while to care about what was happening, and I didn't immediately warm to D.I. Cass Jones. I found the depiction of London and the police at times clichéd and unconvincing. There were slight errors in the terminology that niggled as well. SO10? The unit has been called SCD10 for several years, Medical Examiner visiting a crime scene? What happened to The Coroner's Officer? Then there's unconvincing dialogue such as a criminal profiler calling the D.I. a "fed" - really?
Just when I was ready to give this up as the work of someone who'd watched too many episodes of The Bill, Cass is informed about the death of his brother, and the story springs to life. At this point (around page 80) Pinborough seems to find her feet, and her evident storytelling ability kicks in. In fact from this point until the conclusion, the book is a great read. I read all of the remaining book, a little over 300 pages, straight through in one sitting. I then enjoyed the deepening intrigue, and the sense of mystery that pervades the story. In many ways this is a really well plotted book, and the pacing is perfect for the last two-thirds.
There are several threads in this story, which is the first of a trilogy. As these threads began to unravel, I found them captivating and I really wanted to know what linked them together. The supernatural elements in the story, although sometimes creepy, are mostly understated. This first book of The Dog Faced Gods is definitely more crime than horror. Despite this, I really enjoyed the supernatural elements that were present, and for me Pinborough's prose appears to show more confidence in these elements than in some of the crime aspects.
After a slow start and aside from a few quibbles, which I mostly forgot when the story got going, I found this be a really good read. I don't recall ever changing my opinion on a book quite so decisively in recent times as I did with this. Perhaps it's because I'm someone intimately familiar with many of the settings in this book, that my initial reaction was to be somewhat unconvinced. As the story progressed I not only reversed my opinion, I was hooked. I also warmed to D.I. Cass Jones despite his flaws. The book really is enjoyable, and the conclusion is both satisfying and a great teaser for the next volume in the trilogy. With some excellent ideas running through it, A Matter of Blood is definitely worth checking out for fans of both horror and crime fiction, and those who just enjoy a great story.