Blood Red City – Rod Reynolds

A witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

I’m a huge fan of Rod Reynolds’ books, and loved his Charlie Yates books (Cold Desert Sky being the latest of these) which have a regular spot on my books of the year lists and are pitch-perfect 40s Americana. So it was with some excitement that I discovered he was writing something more contemporary, and closer to home. But will the new book capture the magic of the previous stories?

Enter Blood Red City. London, present day. Sweltering in the summer heat as only London can.

Journalist Lydia Wright is sent an anonymous video showing what appears to be a shocking murder on a London train. But all attempts to investigate come up blank. There’s no missing person, no body, and the witness is nowhere to be found. Who sent her the video, and why?

Reader, I loved it. Definitely a shift in gears from the Yates books, but Reynolds shows a deft hand at the modern-day thriller, and this is a cracking example. It’s gritty and brutal and falls firmly into the ‘just another chapter’ which you just know will mean a few too many very late nights!

Not only do we have Lydia doing her investigative journalist bit to try and track down the murdered man, but also in play is the enigmatic fixer Michael Stringer, adding a lovely (if that’s the right word) sense of menace to proceedings.

The trouble with a lot of thrillers is that they tend to be a bit… predictable after a while. There’s often a reliance on the coincidence, the ‘oh look at this thing that happened’ that a lazy writer might drop in to get character A from here to there to solve a particular problem. Happily Reynolds is having none of that, and delivers a splendidly twisty, yet utterly plausible and real plot which stands head and shoulders above most others.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love a book with a real sense of place, where the location feels as much a character as the walkers and talkers. And here present-day London does loom large over proceedings, the summer heat sweltering off the page. Again, it feels solidly authentic and adds yet another layer to the story

I can’t help but wonder what Charlie Yates would have made of modern-day London, mobile phones and the internet when it comes to tracking down the bad guys!

Solid five star read, Rod Reynolds is one of those authors where I’ll read anything he does, because he does it so well. You should too. Blood Red City is a prescient, page-turning thriller. Superb. Go buy it.

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds is published by Orenda Books and is out now. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the advance copy of the book to review.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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