Source: Review copy
Publication: Out now in e-book. Paperback 10 December 2020 from Corgi
My thanks to the publisher for an early review copy
A young man, the son of an influential businessman, is discovered dead in his central Aberdeen apartment.
Hours later, a teenage girl with no identification is found hanged in a suspected suicide.
As DI Eve Hunter and her team investigate the two cases, they find themselves in a tug-of-war between privilege and poverty; between the elite and those on the fringes of society.
Then an unexpected breakthrough leads them to the shocking conclusion: that those in power have been at the top for too long – and now, someone is going to desperate lengths to bring them down…
Can they stop someone who is dead set on revenge, no matter the cost?
The body of a young woman is found hanged in the trees of the local Hazelhead Golf Course in Aberdeenshire, a suspected suicide. Dean Johnstone is also dead; his body in the more salubrious surroundings of his luxury town apartment. Dean was a young man working in IT who wanted for nothing; his flash lifestyle showing that he lived life to the max.
Straight away we are confronted with two deaths. Very different circumstances surround each, but soon it becomes clear to Eve Hunter that nothing is straightforward about either death.
After the events in Hold Your Tongue, Masson’s debut novel, Hunter is working hard to overcome the physical and mental injuries she sustained, and she is determined that she will get to the bottom of both these cases. Her leg is still giving her some trouble, and much to her chagrin, her boss DCI Hastings is resolute in insisting that she continue with her monthly psychiatrist visits, wanting to ensure that Eve’s temper, which has previously caused her to get into trouble, is now under control.
Eve insists that she and her team are up to handling both cases. What they find, however, is a wall of silence surrounding Dean’s death and Eve has to first find the identity of the dead woman before she can begin to find out what happened to her.
Investigations uncover that Dean had two very close friends, Andrew Shirriffs and Finn Mille, from when he attended the expensive and exclusive Hermitage Boys School; a school also attended by the boys’ parents where they were known as known as ‘the Trinity’.
Eve discovers that Andrew Shirriffs died a year ago, and the remaining young man, Finn Miller, is the son of one of the richest and most well-connected men in Aberdeen. Yet Dean’s father, Robert is not co-operating with Eve and her team and the other boys’ parents are equally reticent.
When they discover that the young woman has a signifying mark that suggests she has been trafficked, suspicions focus on the lifestyles of the three young men and their families and what becomes clear is that the past has very long tentacles and what happened years ago has had far reaching consequences.
Masson creates a great picture of Eve Hunter and her team. D.S. Mark Cooper, caught between an increasing respect for Eve and a D.C.I. who wants him to act as his snitch, while his home life is also causing him some grief. D.C. Jo Mearns is also coming more into her own as a character and even D.S. Scott Ferguson seems to be mellowing. Overall this team is coming together as a more effective and cohesive team held together by Eve’s striking personality and commitment to the job.
Out for Blood is an impressive story, told well. Difficult subjects are handled well and sensitively and come through as bold and authentic. A well plotted path to the denouement provides both tension and excitement and leaves the reader surprised and impressed by the direction of plot travel and the secrets that are revealed.
Verdict: An impressive second novel that cements Masson’s standing as a writer to watch. Strong themes and intense, exciting. writing provide a powerful and shocking picture of the ways in which power corrupts and money buys silence. I’ll eagerly await the next book in this series.
Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie -to name but a few. Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue,is the result of those courses. It won the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of the Year 2020 and was longlisted for CWA New Blood Dagger 2020.