Given the throng of Detective Inspectors tracking down killers in crime fiction at present, it takes something special for a sleuth to make a mark. Bill Slider, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' wonderfully blunt and witty DI, effortlessly joins the higher echelons of literary coppers in such ingeniously plotted and elegantly wrought thrillers as Death Watch and Killing Time.
And with Blood Sinister, Harrod-Eagles has produced her most adroit and involving outing for Slider yet.
When award-winning hack Phoebe Agnew is found trussed and strangled in her untidy flat, the most striking clue is that the singularly undomesticated Agnew cooked an elaborate meal for someone before her death. Was it her old friend (and possibly lover) Josh Prentiss? But when Slider begins to dig, pressure from the Home Office quickly shows that Prentiss (a government advisor) has powerful friends. The case is riddled with anomalies: Unidentified fingerprints, a missing ligature and several people all too ready to give alibis before they are requested to. Struggling with a plethora of loose ends, Slider finds more difficulties created by the bizarre behaviour of Atherton, a friend and colleague who seems to be heading for a breakdown. All the while, a killer is at large; someone perfectly prepared to murder again to protect themselves.
A good test of a commanding thriller is the speed with which the reader finds his or herself propelled through the pages--and Blood Sinister moves with express-train speed. The strikingly disparate cast of characters encountered by Slider further ensures that this is one of the most distinctive entries in the series, coupled with the usual atmospheric detail: "The dark room had a faint fragrance of past pot-pourri and dusty carpet, underlined with damp and a hint of candlewax. A bit like a church, Atherton thought: Hassocks, cassocks, incense and rot." --Barry Forshaw