Thank you to the author, Dreda Say Mitchell, for inviting me to read her latest novel and providing me with a review copy.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
The past comes back to haunt her.
Will it destroy her family?
Only two people know what’s happened to the gold stolen in an
underworld bullion heist. That’s East End gangster’s widow
Babs Miller and her best friend Pearl. So when
the gold vanishes from its hiding place that means there can
only be two suspects.
Neither can believe they’ve been betrayed by the other. Neither
wants a war. But honour, pride and tit for tat revenge drag them
and their families towards a cliff edge of brutal gangland violence.
And as they try and stay alive, what other dirty secrets are going
to be dug up while these two women duel to the death?
I’ll start off with a confession – I have never read any of Dreda Say Mitchell’s books before and so I started off with the 4th in a series. Does it work well as a standalone? Yes, it does as there is plenty of backstory to allow you to know how all the characters connect to one another; however, I do think with gritty crime drama based around family life it is always better to “grow up” with the characters and read the series from the beginning.
Despite my late entrance to the party and being the new kid on the block in relation to the Miller family this was still one rollercoaster ride of a read! Fast paced and authentic dialogue combined with a great sense of place meant that I was soon sucked into their lives and the hunt for the missing gold!
Pearl and Babs were brilliant characters, I got a real visual sense of them as I read and could almost hear their voices from the pages. Strong East End women with tragic pasts that brought them to where they are today. The characters were raw and realistic and each of them had a story that made me want to listen! At times it felt as though I was sitting with them in the midst of their lives!
There were a few points throughout the book where you have to suspend your belief with elements of the plot; this is fiction remember, but it is fiction laced with authenticity through characterisation and narrative and the author has created a little cracker with this book!
At times gritty and violent as you would expect from a gangland thriller, yet laced with a dark but warm sense of humour giving a real sense of family and community loyalty. I got a very real sense of being caught up in the community and the lives of the characters within the book. The scenes at the care home were at times heartbreaking yet at others hysterical.
Blood Secrets is full of drama, twists and turns. Dysfunctional yet loyal family ties are the main theme of the book and combined with some tough and hard-hitting gangland violence this would make a perfect TV series.
I began this review with a confession and I shall end with a promise – I am going to remedy my lack of DS Mitchell reading pretty pronto!
Blood Secrets is available to purchase from:
About the author:
Born and bred on a council estate in the East End of London, Dreda has seen it all from the inside. After a string of jobs as a waitress, chambermaid and catering assistant she realised her dream of becoming a teacher. Her first book won the John Creasey Dagger Award. Dreda’s books are inspired by the gritty, tough and criminal world she grew up in. She still lives in London’s East End.
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