In the Blood
PublisherHead of Zeus
Date Published09 August 2018
Price£ 18.99

In the Blood

by Ruth Mancini

Solicitor Sarah Kellerman’s client is one she may regret taking on. The young woman is due to stand trial for the attempted murder of her baby.


Sarah Kellerman’s work-life as a London solicitor is in danger of unravelling. Her home life is complicated as a single mum with a severely handicapped son. And her social life is non-existent. She is losing the respect of her colleagues and more importantly her boss for not being free to work all hours because of her little boy, Ben. She has had no support at home since Ben’s father went back to Australia. But she somehow keeps the balls in the air. Just.

Then a friend presents her with a case. Ellie, a 20-year old mum, is accused of the attempted murder of her baby, Finn. The girl is everything Sarah expected. She is sullen, angry and reluctant to take advice. But she is also nothing Sarah expected. She is beautiful, genuine and, Sarah is certain, innocent.

As Sarah’s investigations proceed, two steps forward and half a dozen sideways, her home life takes a surprising turn for the better. But nothing and no one is what it seems as her case turns from a question of finding out the truth to something far more sinister.

In the Blood is a PI whodunit story hidden behind the guise of a solicitor trying to prove her client’s innocence. It puts an interesting angle on a plot that is not unique. And Sarah, the protagonist, has a backstory that makes her character see life from a unique perspective. Unfortunately, it barely conceals yet another woman who is vulnerable to taking the wrong path. And protagonists who bang on about putting their children first then within the first few chapters fall for the first guy who shows them any interest are cliched and unimaginative. They are also wholly unrealistic. I dream of the day that a main character openly admits from the start that she has half an eye watching out for her dream guy to ride in on his white stallion and whisk her off her feet. At least she would be believable.

Sarah goes beyond being flawed and vulnerable, and although in real life, she is a person for whom I would have a huge amount of sympathy, she annoyed me. I found that her neediness made her difficult to connect with. The other characters are predictable and don’t particularly leap from the page.

The plot is unsurprising and somewhat contrived, especially with the love interest angle. It comes with many conveniences and neon-lit foreshadowing, and more than a sprinkling of the brown-haired, blue-eyed description. The reveal is long-winded and vastly overcooked. That said, the dialogue is realistic, and the overall writing quality is good. It certainly comes from a confident voice that clearly knows the world of solicitors and the law.

In The Blood is an easy, well-paced read. The story is sufficiently involved that despite its weaknesses, I enjoyed the book as a distraction. And it gave me an insight into the difficulties of caring for children with neurological disorders.

Reviewed 09 February 2019 by Kati Barr-Taylor

Kati Barr-Taylor lives in her ‘cosy pigsty’ in the Dordogne. She satisfies her literary cravings by translating, writing, editing and reading.