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by Raymond Haigh
Robert Hale, July 2009
224 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 0709088280

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Private Investigator Paul Lomax is suddenly overburdened with cases. First he is commissioned to track down the son of Daniel and Maria Brody; Jason Brody is a student at Birmingham University who has not been answering his phone. As a side-order Daniel asks him to ascertain whether Maria has been having an affair as he suspects. Meanwhile dying millionaire Abraham Feinburg wants Lomax to look after his wife Marlena and ensure that problems with his estate are resolved. Unfortunately Feinburg dies before he can tell Lomax exactly what those problems involve.

INNOCENT BLOOD is an almost charmingly bad book. The plotting is extremely pedestrian, with the only 'surprise’ being a blindingly obvious one which should be glaringly apparent to anyone less dense than Lomax. The writing is pedestrian and the characterisation almost comic in its failure to rise above the stereotypical. Lomax himself reads as a kind of caricature of the PI complete with seedy office, Jaguar car and improbable sexual shenanigans. Indeed the whole book might be read as a parody except that it so clearly is not. The thing which prevents it being charming is that its treatment of non-white characters, particularly Muslims, is at best offensive and at worst down-right racist.

But. Despite all these flaws - and they are very real - I have to admit that I devoured it at a very fast pace. This is partly because there is nothing to delay the intellect and partly because the very badness has a strange fascination. There are many considerably better books which I have struggled to finish. I am being honest here and do not feel good about it because this is a book which I ought to really dislike as well as dismiss. And I certainly do dislike the treatment of non-white characters. But despite the fact that it is extremely bad I can’t honestly say that INNOCENT BLOOD was hard to read nor without certain twisted pleasures. If you have similarly perverse likings for the truly bad this is a book which it would be worth borrowing from your local library.

Reviewed by Nick Hay, February 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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