2 May 2013

Review: IN HER BLOOD, Annie Hauxwell

Synopsis (Penguin Australia)

Everyone is hooked on something.

It's not that easy to kick the money habit. After the world meltdown forces London's bankers to go cold turkey, people look elsewhere for a quick quid: the old fashioned East End.

So when investigator Catherine Berlin gets an anonymous tip-off about a local loan shark, the case seems straightforward – until her informant is found floating in the Limehouse Basin.

In another part of town, a notorious doctor is murdered in his surgery, and his entire stock of pharmaceutical heroin stolen. An unorthodox copper is assigned to the case, and Berlin finds herself a reluctant collaborator in a murder investigation.

Now Berlin has seven days to find out who killed her informant, why the police are hounding her and, most urgently of all, where to find a new – and legal – supply of the drug she can't survive without.

My Take

I love coming across new voices in Australian crime fiction and Annie Hauxwell's first novel was well worth the read.

Set in contemporary London it took me into a world I hadn't visited before and set up some connections I hadn't thought about before: an agency that investigates financial irregularities and outsources information to London police; a fraud investigator with a drug addiction; a very nasty loan shark with connections to regular finance; a doctor who dispenses heroin under legitimate licence; an anti-drugs campaigner who provides addiction counselling.

At the centre of it all is Catherine Berlin, an unusual protagonist in a number of ways.
    The case conference with the Murder and Serious Crime Squad was perfunctory. The men at the table regarded Berlin with indifference. She was just a civilian investigator with a regulatory agency. At fifty-five her lean frame was tending to look wasted. Her hair, once blonde, was now a dirty melange of grey, streaked with tarnished gold.
Annie Hauxwell has a real flair for description and her characters truly come alive.

The other thing she does well is suspense and I found myself almost holding my breath as the book drew to its close and the final threads came together.

My rating: 4.7


About the author

Annie Hauxwell was born in London and emigrated with her family to Australia when she was a teenager. She abandoned the law to work as an investigator for a private firm, and after working as a screenwriter she turned her hand to novels. She now lives in Castlemaine, Victoria, and travels to London frequently.

#2 in the Catherine Berlin series: A BITTER TASTE  coming soon

Other reviews to check

1 comment:

Kathy D. said...

This book had dropped off my radar screen, but since you favorably review it -- and with a 4.7 no less, I'll revive the title on my TBR list.

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