Read of the Week

Blood Orange

Harriet Tyce


Review: Karen Watkins

Dark, domestic, deeply disturbing. This psychological thriller is domestic noir with extra noir.

At the heart is Alison Wood. She has it all. Her career as a criminal lawyer is careening in the fast lane when she is given her first murder case, something she’s been building up to all her professional life.

At home, husband Carl is primary caregiver to their 6-year-old daughter, Matilda. They live in the heart of London.

However, Alison is on a course of self-destruction, binge drinking and having an illicit affair with another lawyer, Patrick Saunders.

Handsome, distinguished, dangerous, Alison’s dignity vanishes as she bends over backwards to please him.

Meanwhile, Alison is working on the high profile case of her client, Madeleine Smith, who has been arrested for stabbing her husband to death. She wants to plead guilty. At first it looks like a straightforward case, but as the defence is prepared it becomes apparent that there are unsettling parallels between the lives of Alison and Madeleine.

Without giving too much away, Alison’s life gets more complicated as the story twists and turns, leading to a cleverly structured blindsiding conclusion.

The characters are well-rounded and believable, and Tyce is commended for bringing them to life and making me feel such strong emotions, swaying from dislike to sympathy. I couldn’t put this compulsive page-turner down and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

It makes for very uncomfortable reading at times, and there are parts that may shock, but it’s actually a very topical, compelling read.

This is Edinburgh author Tyce’s debut novel. As a barrister for 10 years herself, the legal aspects of the story are totally realistic.