Blood Tears by Michael J Malone
The first time I met Micheal J Malone was in August of this year as a part of the Tidelines Festival in North Ayrshire, Scotland. He was indulging in his first love and reading some of his poetry from his book In The Raw. That book is reviewed on this site at https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/in-the-raw-by-michael-malone/. His poetry is sharp and well pitched. I was looking forward to reading his first crime novel, Blood Tears. This is particularly because Michael spent a good portion of his childhood in a Roman Catholic orphanage and the book largely revolves around such an institution. Of course, I am sure it is all heightened. It is a novel. However, there were things that seem to reflect personal experience in the novel.
Blood Tears opens from the point of view of the murderer. He is in the act of killing a man using the stigmata method to mirror the wounds of Christ. It is a brutal, disturbing, and gripping scene. When the body is discovered it is Glasgow DI Ray McBain immediately realises the terrible mutilations spell out the wounds of the stigmata and recognizes their significance before the other police do. it turns out the victim is a paedophile who worked at several children’s homes, including the Catholic orphanage McBain grew up in. McBain makes some poor procedural decisions and gets himself arrested as a suspect.
Thereafter, McBain is a cop on the run, who must prove his innocence before his former police colleagues catch him again. Dreams of his orphan childhood come back to him, making him question his sanity and motivations. McBain is definitely a flawed protagonist.Clearly, he should have left the case to other detectives because of his connection. A large part of the excitement derives from the fact that he did not. He also brought in his friend Daryl Drain and a new detective, Allessandra, threatening their careers as well as his own. McBain is also over-weight, swears like a trooper, is having an affair with a married woman, and is friendly with a heavy-duty gangster. He is definitely flawed.
The story does get stretched at times. McBain seems to lose weight rather quickly, which helps him to protect his identity along with dyeing his hair. Also, the book jumps between first person when McBain is the narrator and third person the rest of the time. Tht is a conceit I truly dislike. However, overall, the book kept me guessing, there are plenty of twists and turns to grip the reader. At the reveal, what happened to all the kids in the orphanage is upsetting.
This is a first novel and I am sure Michael’s work will go from strength to strength. He took part in the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers’ Festival in Stirling, Scotland this year: so if you enjoy the Scottish noir genre then I definitely recommend Blood Tears. If you decide to go to the Bloody Scotland Crime Writer’s Festival sometime, the Stirling Highland Hotel, Spittal Street, Stirling FK8 1DU, Scotland is very conveniently located for it. The hotel is reviewed at https://hotelandrestaurantreviews.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/stirling-highl…8-1du-scotland/.