Title: Blood Orange
Author: Harriet Tyce
Publication Date: 21 February 2019
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…
Blood Orange is the debut novel from former criminal barrister, Harriet Tyce. It is a combination of both legal and domestic thriller, exploring the age-old issues of love, jealously, betrayal and hate.
Protagonist Alison Wood has the perfect life. She has a successful career as a criminal defence barrister, an understanding psychotherapist husband, Carl and a loving 6 year old daughter, Matilda. However all is not as it seems. She also has a drinking problem, a manipulative lover and an anonymous text stalker.
After 15 years in the job, Alison has finally been given her first ever murder trial. Madeleine Smith is standing trial for murder after being discovered next to her abusive husband Edwin’s dead body. She cannot remember the event, yet she has confessed to the crime and is unwilling to consider any options other than pleading guilty. Alison is not convinced that Madeleine is being completely candid and she cannot help but dig further in order to uncover the truth of the matter.
I enjoy a good legal thriller and I thought this element was well done. The first part of the book does give a good amount of time to the criminal case and I found this plot line to be intriguing. I was keen to get to the bottom of the matter and find out the truth of Edwin’s murder.
The book provides equal time to the other main plot line, being that of Alison’s personal life. Despite reaching the next stage in her career, this success is somewhat overridden by her messy personal life and particularly her unhealthy relationship with her instructing solicitor, Patrick Saunders. She knows of Patrick’s reputation as a serial womaniser and she tries to keep her distance, yet as her issues being to surface, her increasing alcoholic tendencies see her time and time again neglecting her perfect family whilst pursuing this toxic relationship with an unworthy Casanova.
For both men and woman, it can be difficult to juggle a professional career and a family life. Alison sees herself failing to maintain a decent work/family life balance and her family also witness that failure. People are fallible and anyone would, at times, struggle to maintain that balance, however Alison’s own self-destructive behaviour adds to the problem.
Alison is not a likeable character and I struggled to feel any empathy for her. As a narrator she is particularly unreliable. With her drinking problem and her obviously unhealthy approach to relationships, it is difficult to assess the accuracy or normality of Alison’s thoughts and judgments. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel constantly frustrated when seeing her deliberate (or careless) destruction of her ‘perfect’ life. She understands what the repercussions of her infidelity will likely be, yet that doesn’t seem to stop her self-destructive tendencies. Alison simply does not seem to place any real value what others can spend their whole lives trying to find/achieve. This made me feel on edge throughout the entire book, a great way of building some psychological suspense into the tale.
Alison certainly makes an interesting protagonist. As a reader, I found myself torn between my dislike of her and her actions, and a growing sympathy for her. I couldn’t quite dislodge the sense of ‘it serves you right’ that I felt towards her situation and yet, however awful she could be, the consequences were simply so much worse than anyone could ever have anticipated. This is a character who would certainly divide readers.
The ending comes quickly and it hits hard. Without going into detail and providing spoilers, I had a slightly inkling that something wasn’t quite right in that area and I knew there would be some kind of twist, but I didn’t for a moment suspect the whole truth. A shocking and chilling ending.
Blood Orange is a disturbing, dark and suspenseful tale of toxic desire, fear and destruction. It combines psychological suspense with a gripping plot. A stunning debut from author, Harriet Tyce and I will be now be eagerly anticipating her next book.
About the Author
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.
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