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4.0 out of 5 stars A gritty horror and serial killer thriller bursting with dark imagination, 10 May 2010
This review is from: A Matter Of Blood: The Dog-Faced Gods Book One (DOG-FACED GODS TRILOGY) (Paperback)
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First published in 2010, British author Sarah Pinborough's novel `A Matter Of Blood' formed the first segment of `The Dog-Faced Gods' trilogy. The second book - `The Shadow Of The Soul' is due out in April 2011. Pinborough's name has already become established within the literary world, with a line of seven similarly dark novels under her belt, as well as contributions to the popular `Torchwood' series.

Set in a not-too distant gritty future, global recession has ravaged the world's economy, leaving the governments crumbling from within. One superpower dominates over this bleak horizon - a conglomerate of the world's wealthiest men, creating the financial juggernaut that is The Bank.

The police force takes to morally questionable practices, turning a blind eye to certain well respected criminal's activities in order for their insubstantial wages to be subsidised. Detective Inspector Cassius Jones is no different. The DI finds himself heading up the investigation on a mysterious serial killer than has begun plaguing the city. Not only that, but he has been lumbered with another case of a possible gang-related drive-by revenge killing gone horribly wrong.

As the DI juggles the two high profile cases, a pattern slowly begins to immerge connecting the two. The puzzling murders at the hands of a cryptic serial killer are leaving a disturbing poetry in their wake. "Nothing is sacred' is scrawled across each one of the victims chests in their own blood. And perfectly placed fly eggs are found lovingly secreted on the corpse's cold bodies. Each delicate egg miraculously undamaged.

Somehow everything is related. But the corruption of the city runs deeper through its dirt-filled veins than Cass Jones ever realised. And its about to become all too personal for the DI when his life is suddenly ripped open and dragged deep into the black abyss of this dark and twisted new world...

Pinborough combines a gritty and down-trodden serial-killer thriller with a dark piece of supernatural-esque horror fiction; creating a haunting first instalment into what promises to be a truly dark trilogy.

With stark similarities drawn from the likes of Clive Barker's imaginatively twisted horror fiction, Stuart Macbride's bleak impressions of the not too distant future and perhaps Dean R Kontiz's or Stephen Gallagher's gritty earlier work; the novel has a definite target audience in mind that thrives on such imaginatively downbeat styles of horror fiction.

Detective Inspector Cass Jones is the typical attitude-filled anti-hero that you've come to expect from such fiction. Indeed, the principal character seems to have been plucked straight out of a James Herbert novel and thrust into the chaotic maelstrom of an early Clive Barker tale.

Pinorough keeps the reader guessing for almost the entirety of the tale as to the true understanding and origins of the killer and his cruel motivations. The storyline begins as two parallel running plotlines, which in turn split off into further subplots, creating a number of initially baffling storyline branches that eventually begin to unite together once again, as the novel draws to a close.

The novel's finale plays out a clever twist ending, hammering down almost a non-stop tattoo of action until the not-altogether-explained final sequence is played out and this first novel in the trilogy is somewhat loosely wrapped up.

All in all, this first instalment into this gritty-horror trilogy delivers an oppressive storyline that seems to cling to the readers mind as the tale weaves a story of mystery and mounting suspense. Characterisation is typically downbeat, with the characters developed upon to a level that successfully captures their lives for the reader, without stodging up the flow of the storyline. The balance of supernatural horror and a serial killer crime thriller is well maintained, with just enough emphasis on each to keep the novel creeping down the carefully crafted pathway, without slipping too far down into the depths of one particular territory.

The novel runs for a total of 356 pages.
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