#BookReview: Blood For Blood by J M Smyth (@bwpublishing)

51iPbibcIaL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“Care. There s a word if ever I heard one. I looked it up in a dictionary once. It had a lot of definitions but not one that applied to me and Sean…


Red has survived the barbarity and abuse of the orphanage. His twin brother Sean has not been so lucky. With a sworn oath to avenge his brother s murder, Red kidnaps a policeman s daughter and leaves her to be brought up in care, to suffer like he and Sean did. But this is just the first part of Red s plan for revenge against all those who took their freedom.


Now, twenty years later, the time has come. The kidnapped girl has grown up and left the orphanage, never knowing who her real parents are or the part she’ll now play in Red’s shocking revenge. And for those who have been living their lives in peace, with faded memories of twin boys who were put into care years ago, life is about to descend into hell.

But with the criminal underworld, the police and an unexpected serial killer on the scene, sometimes even the best laid plans go awry…”

This is one seriously dark book which gets under your skin from the opening chapters.  Not an easy subject matter that some may find upsetting and hard to stomach.  For those who are life long crime fans, and for those with an iron constitution, I can guarantee that you will find this a riveting read.

Red (Robert) Dock and his twin brother, Sean are two of Ireland’s unwanted babies. Raised in an abuse riddled orphanage, Red is strong enough to survive the daily beatings and punishments.  His brother, Sean isn’t as strong and dies an unnecessary death.  Now a grown man and consumed by revenge, Red is hellbent on making others pay for the loss of his twin.  He puts into action his 20 year plan by kidnapping the baby daughter of a high ranking police officer.  He subjects her to the same torture and cruelty he suffered as a child by putting her into the exact same care system he suffered in.  This is only the beginning of an intricate scheme, with many interwoven threads, all aimed at destroying the lives of the people Red feels are responsible for Sean’s death.  Throw in a serial killer who just happens to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time and who knows who will survive.  Will Red be able to avenge Sean’s death and how many will die in the process…?

I found this novel eerily fascinating.  I don’t think you really know the full extent of the story (or the characters) until you reach the very last word of the very last paragraph.  I found myself pondering the story at quiet times during the day, almost like I was making sure it had sunk it and I had all the loose ends tied up in my mind. It certainly stayed with me afterwards.

Red’s scheme is brilliantly clever and his thirst for revenge quite nauseating.  His total lack of feeling towards his fellow man is beyond callous. With all that in mind, why did I find him strangely charming?

For those that aren’t aware (and have been asleep up until this point) this book is set in Ireland, about Irish characters and written by an Northern Irish author. It took me a little while to get my head around the sentence structure and the writer’s style. I think I was having a bad day.  Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to warm to the tone.

The closing chapters are superb. I loved the obscure ways of murdering characters (yes, I’m strange!). Very clever, almost genius in some cases. And I loved that there’s a serial killer in this book, but it not all about him (serial killers get ALL of the attention!).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would, particularly if you’re after something a little different. Clever, intricate and full of dark wit. I almost hope to meet Red Dock at some point again, in the future. 

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to #TBConFB, Black & White Publishing and J M Smyth for providing me with a copy of Blood For Blood in exchange for an honest review.

Blood For Blood by J M Smyth was published in the UK by Black & White Publishing on 14th July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Black & White Publishing |

J.M. Smyth was born in Belfast, and moved to London at the age of 15. He has worked as a landscape gardener, antiques restorer, furniture maker, equeastrian gear manufacturer, horse breeder and a tomato inspector… Smyth finally came to writing a long time ambition whilst in hospital following an accident involving an under-sized parachute, and has been at it intermittently ever since. His first novel Quinn was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger. Blood for Blood is his second novel, and has already been published in Japan, France and Germany. Smyth currently lives in County Louth, Ireland.

Willow Walk (Banktoun Trilogy, book 2) by SJI Holliday

51h-8-rXKHL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_“When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight? When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run – but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away? As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes an irrevocable decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once more?”

Willow Walk is book 2 in the Banktoun Trilogy written by the very talented SJI Holliday.  I read Black Wood, the first in the trilogy last year and enjoyed it.  Willow Walk is however, in my opinion, the superior book.  I’m very much looking forward to the third instalment to discover if ill-fated Banktoun can take much more!

Sergeant Davie Gray is called to the ICU following the brutal attack of an unknown woman. He doesn’t understand why he’s called but he begrudgingly goes.  Only when he arrives at the hospital does he realise that the victim bears a staggering resemblance to his girlfriend, Marie.  He’s not there to assist in the case as he first thought, he’s there for identification purposes. Thankfully it’s not Marie but she is acting strangely; pushing him away and drinking more than usual.  What secrets is Marie hiding and why is she so cagey about the letters hidden in her kitchen cupboard?  Can Davie work out what implications Marie’s past has on their future and the lives of their friends…?

I was drawn in to this book straight away by the incredibly creepy prologue.  I had to find out more!  Who was this woman and how had she ended up here, surrounded by total devastation at a drink and drug fuelled party?  From there the story builds filling in the gaps so that events start to make more sense.  I felt at times that there was a lot going on but it was still easy to follow and everything is beautifully tied up at the end.

Some of the themes are quite upsetting but SJI Holliday has done a terrific job of setting the scene without going too far.  It is quite an uncomfortable and unsettling read in places so be warned. I had a sense of foreboding (introduced by that creepy prologue) from the start, which didn’t leave me until I closed the back cover and took a deep calming breath.

Would I recommend this book?  If you’re looking for a character driven psychological thriller then I most certainly would.  It’s a cracking read, very compelling and cleverly written by Susi Holliday.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to THE Book Club on Facebook (TBC), the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy of Willow Walk in exchange for an honest review.

Willow Walk by SJI Holliday is published by Black & White Publishing and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Smith & Sons (11)


S.J.I. Holliday grew up in Haddington, East Lothian – a small town near Edinburgh, Scotland. She spent many years working in her family’s newsagent and pub before going off to study microbiology and statistics at university. She has worked as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry for over sixteen years, but it was on a six-month round-the-world-trip that she took with her husband ten years ago that she rediscovered her passion for writing. Her first novel, BLACK WOOD was published in 2015, the second, WILLOW WALK is out in June 2016.

You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com or connect with Susi via Twitter @SJIHolliday