BLUE WICKED is the second book by Scottish author Alan Jones I’ve read. Each of them have come with warnings about strong language and use of the Glasgow dialect which is more of an attraction than deterrent for this reader.
The author’s first novel, THE CABINET MAKER, was an interesting variation on standard crime fiction fare. BLUE WICKED has a similar concept at the core, although it does ramp up the confrontation considerably.
Whilst the language and style is an attraction, the graphic and seemingly relentless animal cruelty and abuse at the start of book less so. Despite this sounding like a very unpleasant suggestion, stick with it. A brave opening by this author, there are parallels between the appalling killing of cats, and the human victims that start appearing. At that point the warnings of vet Eddie Henderson, mostly ignored by police, are noticed and taken seriously by a young detective who is convinced enough to put her own job on the line.
Right from the start, when the first death, and investigation, are quickly revealed to be that of a feline victim, there’s an interesting balancing act undertaken by Jones. The well-known taboo of crime fiction about not harming animals is blithely but not gratuitously ignored. There is something very revealing about the difference in reactions to explicit and vile cruelty to human victims as opposed to feline - and it’s not hard to see how the obvious parallels by the deaths could be dismissed or disregarded by investigators.
Good pacing and a solid plot support interesting characters, with Henderson in particular an unusual prospect. For those who were fortunate enough to read THE CABINETMAKER there are parallels again in the way that male characters are constructed. Flawed and introverted, dedicated and yet somehow slightly sad and put-upon there is a romantic element here that’s balanced well against the grimness of the situation that brings all of these characters together.
Obviously this is going to be a tricky undertaking for readers who absolutely hate the inclusion of animal cruelty in their crime fiction. In defence of BLUE WICKED there’s care and concern, and a reason.
I was pleased to be invited to join a blog tour for BLUE WICKED by the author (who also provided a copy of his book to me for review). You can find out more / purchase at:
Find Alan on Twitter at @alanjonesbooks or on Facebook