Saturday, 11 April 2015

I AM IN BLOOD Old Murders Never Die by Joe Murphy

Old Murders Never Die
By Joe Murphy

Published:April 2015
O'Brien Press Ltd

Source: RealReaders


A multi-layered, Gothic tale of obsession and bloodshed set in modern-day and Victorian Dublin. Present day: Seventeen-year-old Nathan Jacob's interest in real-life crime leads him to a series of horrific murders committed in Dublin's red-light district, The Monto, in the late nineteenth century. As he delves deeper into this grisly mystery, someone - something - begins to speak to him through the pages of time. Something half-formed and dark; something that draws Nathan and his bloodline back to Victorian Dublin and the horrors that took place there. 1890: Sergeant George Frohmell of the Dublin Metropolitan Police is under pressure. His beloved, bedraggled city has become the hunting ground for a faceless monster, a creature that preys on the poor and vulnerable, leaving them butchered in back alleys. As the death toll increases and the violence moves ever nearer to his own heart, Frohmell must find his man - or lose everything.
My Thoughts:
I Am In Blood by Joe Murphy is written from 3 different points of view in two different time lines.

Dublin, December 2015: When Nathan's father dies he is devastated and propelled into utter despair. He feels totally disconnected and alienated from his adoptive family, and they are too wrapped up in their own grief to notice how badly Nathan has been affected. His grief is utterly debilitating. Already labelled as strange by his family and almost everyone at school he feels unable to talk to anyone and draws ever more into himself.  His only outlet is reading and he submerges himself into true crime stories and soon becomes obsessed with murders that took place over a century ago in 'The Mondo' Dublin. Nathan is compelled to investigate and with his only friend, Esther Gilsenan as accomplice, he uncovers some unnerving and terrifying revelations about his own family history.

Nathan's account is terribly emotive and unsettling.  I really felt for him in his misery and growing disconnection with the real world and his frustration at wanting to know who he really is now that everything dear to him has gone.

Dublin, 1890's: Sergeant George Frohmell (Fromhell !) is a man struggling to come to terms with past relationships and has a long term drink problem. His problems are about to increase tenfold with the discovery of a brutally murdered prostitute. With political unrest taking up valuable police time and resources, Frohmell finds it increasingly difficult and frustrating tracking down the murderer with little to no help from a police force that considers the murder of prostitutes a low priority.

Frohmell is fearful for these women, especially Rose a prostitute he cares about and despirately wants to apprehend the perpetrator. With the aid of his partner, Dr Oliver O'Sullivan, they endeavour to catch the killer before he finds his next victim.

The third perspective is that of the murderer as a child and is set in Sussex, England between the years 1843-1856. Each chapter begins and ends with what can only be described as the ramblings of a madman which have been penned in poetic prose. These are chilling, and confusing passages which only make a modicum of sense after reading the sections in between that go some way in explaining the mind and psyche of the developing psychopath.

The climactic collision of the two timescales was a little disappointing on Nathan's part of the story. Its a short sharp finale with no conclusion, but it does have the seeds of a sequel where we may find out what happened.

The writing style of the book is overwhelmingly dark, with gothic atmospheric scenes of poverty driving women to put themselves in harms way and degrade themselves in order to provide for their family. Murphy was an artist painting the scenes so I could see, smell and taste and experience the misery, and harshness of life in Dublin during the 1890's.

Favourite quotes/sentences from the book were: 'Black coat, black scarf, black hair, black eyes. Her face floated like a petal in dark waters' & 'There was a broken edge to it that he didn't like. It was a twiggy sound, winter sound. Sharp and gnarled'.

"I Am in Blood is a many-layered tale of darkness and bloodshed. It asks the question: Who are we? And most importantly: Do we have a choice"

The title’s reference to Macbeth and the line 'I am in blood' suggests to me that once started on a path, one is unable to undo any steps taken, or go back to the way things were. They have to see it through to it final fruition. Or, for the purposes of this novel, maybe it implies that a persons genetic makeup may predispose them to inheriting traits of their historical relatives including mental health defects and that untreated may develop into full blown psychopathic tendencies.

I would certainly recommend 'I Am In Blood' for YA's and more mature teens, they would certainly 'get' Nathan's 'teen angst'.  I'd also recommend it to anyone else for that matter who enjoy an atmospheric, and gruesome gothic thriller. Book groups would have some interesting discussions about the content too.

I received an advanced readers copy from, RealReaders for an honest review.

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