You find your neighbour dead in his bath.
Your son is with you. He sees everything.You discover your wife has been in the man’s house.
It seems she knew him.Now the police need to speak to you.One night turns Alex Mercer’s life upside down. He loves his family and he wants to protect them, but there is too much he doesn’t know.He doesn’t know how the cracks in his and Millicent’s marriage have affected their son, Max. Or how Millicent’s bracelet came to be under the neighbour’s bed. He doesn’t know how to be a father to Max when his own world is shattering into pieces.Then the murder investigation begins…
A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson is published in hardback and ebook by Harper Collins on 26 March 2015, and is the author's debut novel.
Scottish Alex, his American wife Millicent and their eleven-year-old son Max live in an area of Finsbury Park, London that is known as 'Crappy'. Alex and Millicent married quickly thirteen years ago, they both work from home in the media industry. From the outside they appear to be a regular, modern family. They are untidy, they swear in front of their son, they spend time apart, but on the whole, things seem to be going well.
Until the day that Alex and Max find their next door neighbour dead in his bath, with an erection, and an electric iron submerged alongside him. Alex's initial thoughts are for Max, no father wants his young son exposed to that sort of thing, what will it do to him? It soon becomes apparent that this is no straightforward suicide, the police are looking for a murderer, and Alex discovers that Millicent and the dead man had a little more than the usual neighbourly relationship.
As the investigations continue and the police question Alex and Millicent, more truths are uncovered. Max knows much more about his parents than they realised, he's an astute little boy, at times he shows intelligence and maturity far beyond his years, whilst at others, his childish reasoning is at the forefront.
Every now and again, a story comes along that grips me, shakes me and totally messes with my head. A Line of Blood is one of those books. With the exception of Max, and maybe Alex's friend Fab5, we are introduced to a bunch of particularly loathesome and selfish characters, whose actions create waves affecting those around them. The author's ability to create these people, yet to also ensure that the reader finds them compulsive enough to continue reading is incredible. I was hooked totally, the plot weaves and twists and turns with an increasing pace. Just when you feel as though you've guessed exactly what has happened, Ben McPherson throws another curve ball your way, and another, and another.
The central theme of A Line of Blood is the damage that can be done to young minds, not intentionally, for Alex and Millicent are loving and open parents, but their young son has seen and heard things that no child of that age should. Max thinks he understands these things, but he also thinks that he has a solution, he wants to help and to make things better - and despite his above average intelligence, he is is still a child, and it is his child-like reasoning that consumes this novel.
This is not an easy read, and it is dark and it is disturbing, but Ben McPherson has such a talent that he holds the reader entralled through each and every unsavoury episode, raising questions along the way, questions that will buzz in the reader's head long after turning the final page.
A Line of Blood is a complex, subtle and captivating psychological thriller, with characters who are flawed, dangerous and at times incredibly vulnerable.
My thanks to Lovereading.co.uk who sent my copy for review.
Ben McPherson is a television producer, director, and writer. He studied Modern Languages at King’s College, Cambridge, and worked for many years in film and television production. From 1998 to 2007 Ben worked as a director and producer for the BBC.
Ben currently lives in Oslo with his wife and son. He has lived in Norway since 2012 and speaks the language fluently. He is the features editor of the Norwegian internet newspaper TheForeigner.no, and is a columnist for Aftenposten, Norway’s leading quality daily newspaper.
Ben’s first novel, A LINE OF BLOOD, was sold at auction to Julia Wisdom at HarperCollins as part of a two-book deal. It is due to be published in the UK in Spring 2015. Dutch and Italian rights were pre-empted at Frankfurt by Luitingh-Sijthoff and Rizzoli.