Source: Review copy
Publication: February 21st 2019 from Wildfire Books
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
Don’t get me wrong, I like pink, I really do. I have a couple of deep pink tops, and I’m fond of a nice dry pink champagne, not to mention a gin and rose lemonade or a rhubarb gin and ginger ale. But all of these simply pale in comparison to a Blood Orange cocktail.
There’s a strength and a fire in a Blood Orange that brings out the best and the worst in me – and Harriet Tyce’s debut novel of that name reflects that strength and zest for life.
Alison Wood Q.C. is a bit all over the place. Married to therapist, Carl, with a young daughter Matilda, she’s kept busy in Chambers with criminal cases, both prosecuting and defending. She’s prone to letting off steam after work by having at least one drink too many, in common with a number of her peers, and she’s embroiled – though even she isn’t sure how deeply, in a steamy affair with a colleague, Patrick.
Not a woman who lives life in half measures by any means. Now she is about to defend her first murder case – a case given to her by an instructing solicitor who is also her on/off lover.
Harriet Tyce’s Alison is not a woman you are going to immediately warm to. She’s got flaws, way too many weaknesses and she knows it. Her infatuation with Patrick leads her into some pretty awful degradation, yet somehow she can’t stop herself. Meanwhile back at home, her long suffering husband and their daughter are waiting for mummy to come home.
Harriet Tyce’s writing is both utterly riveting and hugely propulsive. Once you start reading this book I guarantee you, you will not want to put it down. Tyce gives us a lot to think about as Alison tries to make her name defending her first ever murder case, and that, in itself, is a strong and meaty story.
Alongside that, though is an even more compelling narrative arc, that of the relationships between Harriet and her family, and Harriet and her lover. Layered, sharp, biting and beautifully crafted, this is writing to be proud of.
I loved the character of Alison with all her excesses. Harriet Tyce accurately portrays the stresses of life as a criminal barrister and the need to find a way to relieve the tension that comes from dealing day in day out with some pretty terrible criminality, not to mention the strain of knowing you are arguing for someone’s liberty or incarceration. Being a criminal Q.C. is not a job for the faint-hearted.
I loved this book and just adored the fact that although I was able to work out some of where the plot strands were heading, others hit me in the face with such a surprise that I was shocked. Murder mystery, legal thriller, personal drama, domestic noir; this book is all of these things and more. Dark, strong and intriguing this is a psychological thriller that does not miss and hit the wall.
Verdict: Strong, visceral, compelling and as sharp and bitter as the eponymous Blood Orange, this is an outstanding debut.
About Harriet Tyce
Harriet Tyce is the author of Blood Orange, a psychological thriller due to be published by Wildfire in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US in February 2019. It will also be published in a further eleven countries, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.
She grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University before practising as a criminal barrister for the next decade. After having children she left the Bar and has recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. Blood Orange is her first novel.