Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
Blood Born is Kathryn Fox’s third novel featuring forensic pathologist Anya Crichton – I thought the first, Malicious Intent, was pretty good, but missed the second. Her third novel, Skin And Bone, uses a minor character, Detective Kate Farrer, from the Crichton series as its protagonist. Blood Born uses what have already become Fox trademarks – massively over-successful villains, confusion between Crichton’s personal and professional life, and Crichton’s discovery that the crime she is called in to investigate is only the latest in a terrible series.
In Blood Born Crichton discovers that for too long one dysfunctional family have been able to escape the punishment of their crimes. Now it seems the Harbourns are getting away with murder, alibi’d by their matriarch Noelene, and unwittingly Crichton helps them. Arriving to take Giverny Hart to court where she will give evidence against the Harbourn brothers who raped and assaulted her, Crichton instead discovers the girl dying and in her attempts at resuscitation destroys any evidence that this might be murder, not suicide. Not long after, two more young women are attacked in their home.
Meanwhile, in a better area, Crichton is asked informally for help after a friend clearing out the family home discovers a mummified baby. DNA tests and genealogical research will reveal some unpleasant skeletons in the closet, which still linger today. They will cross over into the Harbourn case, via the judiciary; in Without Consent, the second Anya Crichton novel, the cross-reaction came via problems with a fellow pathologist.
Forensic pathology plays less part here than in the earlier novels, and in fact the story sometimes reads like Perry Mason, including a couple of chapters of court room drama, before it breaks back into the world of suburban violence. Justice is done, though not as Crichton expects it to happen, leaving her and this reader unsatisfied. For any other reader in like condition, though, Malicious Intent proved that Kathryn Fox could produce books to rival Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs, perhaps her next will as well.