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.
A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.
Hi and welcome to my review of Blood Red City! Many thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy!
Blood Red City is Rod Reynolds’ debut novel with Orenda Books but he is by no means a debut author. He was, however, new to me, which entailed that I didn’t really know what to expect. (Well, something good, obviously, it is Orenda, after all.) What I ended up getting was an elaborate, intricate thriller that (to me at least) felt a little like a spy thriller, despite the total absence of spies, go figure.
The female protagonist in Blood Red City is Lydia, who used to be an investigative journalist, until she was plucked from the news desk to cover showbiz for the online newspaper. Which she hates as it doesn’t challenge her at all and to add insult to injury, she has to work nights (cos heaven forbid the American audience wake up without the latest celebrity gossip at their fingertips).
The male protagonist is Michael Stringer, who is a fixer, a dealer in information, which means he gathers professional and personal confidential information on a person, and uses that intel to drive said person into a corner, so that they will do what Springer tells them to do, or rather what Springer’s clients want them to do.
At first glance, Lydia and Springer are rather unlikely bedfellows, her being a well-respected journalist and him essentially a white collar criminal. However, their lots are thrown together when Lydia receives a video of a man being violated, perhaps even killed, on a train. Who is this man, and why hasn’t the police been notified? Lydia is like a dog with a bone, she can’t let it go, but the deeper she digs, the more danger she is in, because the men she’s unwittingly challenging will stop at nothing to get what they want…
Lydia and Springer are well-rounded, beautifully fleshed out characters. Rod Reynolds has made room for their personal life, time to allow us to get to know our main characters. It feels like Springer makes a giant character arc, but it’s really just the author showing us only bits and pieces and we don’t get a full picture until the end. I have to say, Springer is definitely my favourite character – it doesn’t hurt that I kept picturing him as Jason Statham, but come on, a tough guy in a suit with a bigger heart than he lets on? If that doesn’t scream Jason Statham I don’t know what does.
The premise is equally brilliant: a witness but no victim? Like WTH?! I couldn’t help but jump down that rabbit hole with Lydia, join her frantic search for the truth and the bigger picture, all the while trying to contact the witness. Rod Reynolds takes his readers to the darkest parts of London and shows us that those who look squeaky clean may very well be very dirty underneath that spotless veneer.
The finale answered all the questions I still had, while unexpectedly leaving the door cracked open for a sequel. I don’t know if that’s the plan, but I for one would be happy to go back to blood red London with Lydia and Springer.
Blood Red City is an urban crime thriller, from violent crime over white-collar crime to mafia-like practices, and even in these strange times it easily kept my attention from start to finish. Recommended to lovers of (white-collar) crime fiction!