Bad Blood Synopsis :
Freelance journalist Harry Hendrick is beginning to realise that you’re only as good as your last exclusive, and buzz doesn’t pay the bills, when he’s blackmailed by the police into investigating a series of bizarre suicides.
Those investigations lead him into the web of Mistress Hel, who plies her dark arts from her luxurious suburban lair. With continuing challenges in his personal and professional life, can Harry resist her seductive power? Or the thrill of danger itself?
The latest genre-bending thriller from an exciting Australian author, Gary Kemble.
Kemble makes clear from Bad Blood‘s alarming Prologue that there will be bloodletting and great harm inflicted by ‘dark-forces’ and the reader will bear witness to this in graphic detail. Symbolically it asks the reader, “Is this really something you want to get yourself involved in?”, not long before freelance investigative journalist Harry Hendricks finds himself asking that very same question.
And this highlighted for me an interesting distinction I make between written and visual mediums — had that been the opening scene of a movie I would have passed, but as a novel prologue ‘How could I not read on?’. Suffice to say, I ended up reading this in a single day. But you’ve been warned – the content within Bad Blood is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Harry is a likeable underdog, an average knockabout guy, living with some heavy baggage (emotional and physical) after the events that transpired in Skin Deep (debut). Bad Blood‘s supporting cast, specifically those few that Harry has history with are well-drawn, credible characters too (yes, even the psychic!).
But Bad Blood is not just another fantasy thriller – if it was, I do not think it would have held my attention as it did. Nick Earls‘ endorsement captures its essence well:
With grime on the surface and a fat seam of weird menacing below, Gary Kemble has crafted a thriller that pulls you in and keeps its cuffs on you to the last page.
The way Kemble has woven the supernatural with the all-too-real dark forces in society — paedophilia rings and corruption (union/government/police) — the layers of ‘grime’ perpetuated by those in positions of influence and control, adds depth and grit to the story. Kemble’s unadorned, direct writing style forged with the unrelenting menace and brutality of the events that unfold, yield a page-turner.
I was also impressed by just how faithful a representation of Brisbane (my home city) Kemble provides in this novel (sans the supernatural, of course).
While only recommended for those with strong constitutions, Gary Kemble’s Bad Blood is an original and compelling mix of genre with a memorable protagonist.
In a recent interview with Angela Slatter, Kemble revealed he is working on a third Harry Hendricks novel, tentatively titled Stone Cold.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime-Detective, Romance, Fantasy
This review counts towards my participation in the 2016 Aussie Author Challenge.
Author Information: Gary Kemble has spent his life telling stories. He wrote, illustrated and self-published his first story (Back from the Grave) aged eight. His award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad, and his non-fiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online. Born in England and raised in Brisbane. Gary then lived in Edinburgh with his wife and kids for 2 years but is now moving back to Brisbane.
- Read our interview with Gary Kemble in 2015, in celebration of the release of his, and Echo Publishing’s first novel, Skin Deep.
- Kemble’s debut novel Skin Deep has been shortlisted for the 2016 Ned Kelly Award – Best First Fiction.
* My receiving a copy of Bad Blood from Echo Publishing for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.