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Blood for Blood


Blood for Blood

Ziba MacKenzie has survived a lot in her life. What she faces now, though, could take her down. At one time a Special Forces operative, she’s currently a criminal profiler in London. About two years ago, she lost her husband, Duncan, a tragedy that has plunged her into frequent bouts of depression. But Duncan’s best friend, Jack, vows to lift her spirits. For that reason, she’s on her way to meet him when the commuter train that she’s riding slams into another train, with catastrophic results. Her instincts take over, and she sets about helping as many of the injured as possible. One woman in particular Ziba can only make comfortable in her final moments. As she dies, she whispers an urgent message: He did it. You have to tell someone.

What does that mean? Unfortunately, Ziba has no time to worry about it as much as she’s troubled by it. In the early morning hours the next day, Scotland Yard calls with an urgent request. It appears that, after 25 years, a serial killer dubbed the London Lacerator has struck again. Can Ziba assist them? She remembers him well. His attacks are brutal. The mutilation of the bodies, especially the genitals, suggests a history of abuse suffered by the killer. As requested, Ziba works up a profile and then shares it not only with Scotland Yard, but also with television reporters in hopes of drawing him closer. What happens next would make the hairs stand up on the back of anyone’s neck.

"BLOOD FOR BLOOD is truly an excellent, page-turning psychological thriller. I can hardly say more than that."

Apparently, the Lacerator quickly comes to feel a bond with the profiler. Such a perceived bond can lead to a very delicate balance. If Ziba plays it right, the authorities may be able to lure him into a trap. But if she doesn’t, she herself may become his next victim. The risk is as high as anything Ziba saw in Special Ops, but she has the resources of Scotland Yard behind her. More and more, though, clues point to someone close to Ziba, someone who knows her every move. Can she even trust Scotland Yard? And what about Jack? While the police scurry to solve the case, the Lacerator claims more victims. He seems to be escalating. What is triggering him, especially after so long?

As Ziba learns more about the killer, she starts to wonder if the dying woman from the train might have had some connection. But how is that possible? She doesn’t believe in coincidences. The parallels, though, are undeniable. How does the killer get his information? The Lacerator certainly knows a lot about Ziba, even where she lives. Actually, the man has gotten way too close for comfort. Can they catch him before he scores his ultimate victim?

The killer here turns out to have as scary an MO as any in modern literature. Serial killers don’t simply strike out in passion at the object of their fury. They often don’t ever murder the person who set them on their course. So what drives them to kill over and over? We know that, when bad things happen, it can seriously warp a psyche. Here, the villain acts as though he wants to be understood. Ziba is more than willing to accommodate him on that, if it will help capture him. But he proves more than a worthy opponent.

Having a profiler as the protagonist will remind you a little of reading Sherlock Holmes stories. Ziba must use deduction and logic to come to the right conclusions. If she doesn’t, it can mean the loss of many lives, including her own. BLOOD FOR BLOOD is truly an excellent, page-turning psychological thriller. I can hardly say more than that.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on March 1, 2019

Blood for Blood
by Victoria Selman