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Good Literature for Children & Adults

Kate Rhodes & Kate Ellis

Murderous Women of British Crime Fiction

If your knees go weak at the sight of blood, as mine do, you might consider giving Blood Symmetry a pass no matter how much you’ve liked the earlier books by Kate Rhodes. Instead, sit down and read through the first, rather gruesome, passages and carry on – it gets much less graphic and the story ends up being her best yet.

Blood Symmetry is the fifth in the Alice Quentin series of mystery novels. Alice is a forensic psychologist in London, England. She has recently been promoted and is struggling to gain the acceptance of her colleagues, some of whom were passed over for this responsible and prestigious position.

Alice is also struggling in her relationship with DCI Don Burns. She has always had problems making a commitment – her relationships with men seem to last about three weeks before she breaks it off. This time things might be different – Don Burns seems like a really good guy. Perhaps he is the one. But Alice is very uncertain about the future with Don, or any man, and he is putting the pressure on for her to meet his sons.

The book begins with the abduction of a female medical doctor, Clare Riordan, and her young son, Mikey. Mikey escapes but Clare does not. What follows is a very difficult case for both DCI Burns and for Alice Quentin who has been called in to assist in profiling the possible perpetrators. Mikey turns out to be a very bright boy but very distressed by the loss of his mother and is traumatized into silence by his experience. Alice is spending time with Mikey, hoping to help himspeak again, and perhaps tell them where his mother is being held. Alice finds herself bonding with Mikey in a way she has never experienced – she knows it is unprofessional but she cannot help herself from loving this very needy child.

As in all of Kate Rhodes novels, one murder is followed by another, and another, until finally there is a break in the case and it is all resolved.

Kate Ellis also has a new book, the 20th in her Wesley Peterson series is The House of Eyes. This story takes place in Sicily and in South Devon, and involves both a present day crime and a story from the past. The novel begins with an investigation into the disappearance of an attractive young woman who worked at a local hotel, but had dreams of becoming a model. Has she simply left to find work in London, or has she been abducted? The case soon becomes a murder investigation with as many suspects as there are victims.

Wesley and his wife, Pam, have worries of their own, and work for each of them is a welcome distraction, though Wesley wonders if his own problems are clouding his judgment in this case. Wesley’s archaeologist friend, Neil, is working close to the scene of the crimes and when he discovers bodies buried many years earlier it both complicates things and provides clues to what may be happening in the present time.

As always, Kate Ellis tells a good story with just the right mix of plot and suspense, woven into the continuing personal story DI Wesley Peterson, his boss DCI Gerry Heffernan, and their colleagues and families.

A couple of good British crime stories to pass the time on a wintery evening.

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