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Strange Blood    by Lindsay Jayne Ashford order for
Strange Blood
by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

The newspaper headlines merely hinted at the scope of the unspeakable horror: 'Wolverhampton Woman Stabbed to Death' and 'Prayers for Mum Killed in Frenzied Knife Attack.' Beyond the headlines were the grisly details. Tessa Ledbury, 'wonderful mother' and Sunday school teacher, had been brutally murdered and her body had been mutilated in such ways as to suggest a killer's disturbingly macabre motivations.

Detective Superintendent Steve Foy is assigned to the case, and he is assisted by forensic psychologist Dr. Megan Rhys, a university professor and a criminal profiler. Foy and Rhys, with the cooperation of TV journalist Delva Lobelo, soon find evidence that suggests that the ostensibly perfect suburban housewife Tessa may have been actually involved in some rather unwholesome diversions, and Tessa's unsavory companions in those strange activities may be hiding important information that could lead to the arrest of Tessa's killer.

However, when Tessa's husband Richard Ledbury is found to be acting in ways that are quite inconsistent with his new status as widower, Foy and Rhys must suddenly begin to rethink the original direction of their investigation.

Almost immediately, though, other murders are discovered: the second and third victims convince the authorities, the media, and citizens of Wolverhampton that they may have a serial murderer (or murderers) lurking in the shadows of their otherwise idyllic U.K. community.

Author Lindsay Jayne Ashford's tough-as-nails and complex protagonist, Megan Rhys, must unravel a web of personal secrets (and at the same time confront her own personal demons and stake her own personal life on the outcome) as she moves relentlessly toward Strange Blood's surprising conclusion. With an intricately crafted plot that moves through a labyrinth of clue-littered paths (routinely cluttered by plenty of misleading red herrings), Strange Blood is a complex, fast-paced mystery that will certainly entertain fans of forensic procedurals.

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