Book Review: In The Blood by Ruth Mancini

In the BloodAbout the Book

In southeast London, a young mother has been accused of an unthinkable crime: poisoning her own child – and then leaving him to die.

The mother, Ellie, is secretive and challenging – she’s had a troubled upbringing – but does that mean she’s capable of murder?

Balancing the case with raising her disabled five-year-old son, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Kellerman sets out in desperate pursuit of the truth. But when her own child becomes unwell, Sarah realises she’s been drawn into a dangerous game.

Unsettling and compulsive, In the Blood is a chilling study of class, motherhood and power from a new star in crime fiction.

Format: Hardcover, ebook (400 pp.)                          Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 9th August 2018 (ebook, 1st May 2018)   Genre: Thriller, Crime

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find In The Blood on Goodreads


My Review

I remember being a fan of the Granada TV series Crown Court that was broadcast in the afternoons in the 1970s and 1980s.  It was a treat for days off sick or during school holidays and, yes, I’m aware that dates me.  So I found the details of the court proceedings in In The Blood especially fascinating.  There was a real sense of authenticity, no doubt informed by the author’s own experience as a criminal defence lawyer in real life.

The same sense of authenticity was evident in the depiction of single mother, Sarah, as she struggles to hold down an important and stressful job whilst coping with a young child with special needs.   I found her an immediately sympathetic figure and, sadly, the pressure she encounters from her boss and some of her co-workers seemed only too believable.  Sarah’s made to feel she’s not ‘pulling her weight’ because her caring commitments and lack of any family support system means she can’t drop everything at short notice or work unsocial hours in the way her colleagues can.   On the other hand, when she takes on Ellie’s case, whose circumstances in a lot of ways mirror Sarah’s own, the reader is forced to wonder if it’s possible for Sarah to retain the correct degree of professional detachment.

If you’re anything like me, from the start, you’ll find Ellie an unsympathetic figure who seems deliberately designed to raise the reader’s suspicion about her involvement in the harming of her son, Finn.  She comes across as shifty, evasive and unwilling or unable to accept the seriousness of the position in which she finds herself.    You’ll probably also find yourself wondering if you’re being deliberately manipulated by the author into believing Ellie guilty.  But surely that’s the part of fun of a book like this, isn’t it?

And if someone seems too bad to be true perhaps it’s equally possible for someone to be too good to be true as well.  Unfortunately manipulators come in all guises and, as the author skilfully shows, seem able to home in instinctively on a person’s weakness.  And in Sarah’s case, her weakness is definitely her son.

The author kept me guessing throughout the book, peopled as it is with a host of characters whose motives and credibility seemed questionable.  My one reservation is that I wasn’t completely convinced by the motivation of the person finally revealed to be responsible for the poisoning of little Finn.  Their preoccupations and belief system did seem like something out of an earlier age.

In The Blood is a compelling, accomplished thriller sure to delight fans of courtroom dramas but is also a book which explores some contemporary social issues with insight and acute observation.  Oh, and it would have made some terrific episodes of Crown Court

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Head of Zeus, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Compelling, twisty, suspenseful

Try something similar…A Mother’s Sacrifice by Gemma Metcalfe (read my review here)


Ruth ManciniAbout the Author

Ruth Mancini is a criminal defence lawyer, author and freelance writer.  Ruth’s own son is severely disabled, so Sarah’s experiences are based on her own.  She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.

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