Source: Review copy
Publication: 20th September 2018 from Trapeze
A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…
When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?
I’ve wanted to read this book since it first appeared on my radar well over a year ago. So I jumped at the chance to be on the blog tour, because I had a feeling in my bones that it was going to be my kind of book. Delighted to say my bones were not wrong.
Francis Sullivan is not your average D.I. Intelligent and thoughtful, he is young in both years, at 29, and in experience. He’s just been promoted above another experienced detective, DS Rory Mackay which means he already has a lot to prove and his boss DCI Bradshaw, not the most understanding of men, isn’t exactly thrilled to have a rookie in charge either.
Sullivan knows he lacks experience, but he has family he needs to look after and he needs the promotion. Not much of a drinker, it is the church he turns to when he needs to talk things through.
So besuited Francis isn’t exactly in his element when, in the midst of a Brighton Tattoo convention, it becomes clear that there is a killer about who is selecting victims for their body art.
Written in 4 voices, those of Sullivan, his colleague DS McKay, Marni Mullins a local tattoo artist and the killer, this book is a fast and easy read, albeit a dark and gory one.
Francis knows he is out of his depth in the inking world and the tattoo artists tend not to be big fans of the police and so he is happy to enlist the help of Marni Mullins, a local tattoo artist working at the convention who had called anonymously called in a report on the finding of a body but who he swiftly tracked down.
Marni herself has a troubled background and she is wary of the police for reasons that become clear later in the book. It is Marni who first suggests that what links the victims their tattoos and when it becomes clear that they killer is mutilating them by flaying them alive, Marni commits to helping stop the killer in the midst of her community.
While the investigation proceeds, the reader is treated to a narrative from the clearly very disturbed killer and it is clear that there is a pattern to the victim taking.
I loved this book for its black, creepy and rather horrific story telling. If you don’t like your crime gory and disturbing, this is probably not the book for you.
Graphic and thrilling, this book has a killer to match any of the more gruesome serial killers you have read.
I loved the way that Alison Belsham put the young and blushing DI together with the somewhat harder nosed and more worldly-wise Marni Mullins. The ‘opposites attract’ mantra is here is spades and the odd pairing really works in this fantastic book.
The Tattoo Thief is a brilliantly paced, well plotted read with protagonists you root for and a creepy killer who will make you blanche more than once as you read it.
I loved it and am delighted that there are to be more Alison Belsham books coming the readers way.
Verdict: Gory, gruesome, chilling and totally gripping.
About Alison Belsham
Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.
Follow Alison Belsham on Twitter @AlisonBelsham
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