Invisible Blood edited by Maxim Jakubowski

I would like to thank Sarah from Titan for an advance copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review

Publisher – Titan

Price - £7.99

Published – Out Now

Open the files on an anthology of seventeen new crime stories to probe the brutal and complex hearts of criminals, and unravel the strangest of mysteries. ….

Genre tends to get a bad name because it is said to be a limited format but that’s like saying all classical music sounds the same. The joy in genre is taking a theme and playing with it, challenging it and making each story unique. A crime novel can focus on the victim, the culprit and the detective it can challenge society or just provide you with a puzzle to test your own little grey cells. In this collection of seventeen murder or mystery tales Maxim Jakubowski has assembled a collection of some of the best-known writers in the field from around the world to assemble a theme exploring what a crime story is capable of.  It’s a fiercely inventive set of tales that really show you this genre is a not limited in any way.

Amongst my favourites

All the Signs and Wonders by Denise Mina – Claire brutally kills a priest. It’s tempting to reach for the obvious scandal but instead Mina reveals Claire’s life and upbringing. Sometimes good people can do terrible things for the wrong reasons. You may find yourself uncomfortably understanding her motivations.  Really strong tale and poses an interesting moral challenge to the reader.

The Washing by Christopher Fowler – In Franco’s Spain British Linda with her Spanish husband has arrived at a block of flats. Her life is very much confined to home, so she starts to notice her neighbours and the way their washing lines explain their lives. She is fascinated by Maria a sparkly independent woman who marries one of the sinister government officials and notices how her washing line reflects her changing life and the threats within it. Fowler brings a touch of Rear Window to a story of how women are treated in such states – really clever and watching Linda move from passive watcher to finally getting involved in the situation that unfolds is really engrossing. Probably my favourite in the collection as I was never sure where the tale is going.

Blood Lines by Stella Duffy – Another of my favourites. A woman relates how her life is filled with occasional incidents of crippling pain that then mean she can see people covered in blood (which no one else can see). On the one hand a tale of a woman who wants to do the best she can with her life extending this to her children but there is a growing feeling that something is not quite right in this story. Its subtly chilling and a great tale for re-reading exactly what you were being told…

Smile by Lee Child – An exclusive Jack Reacher short story. In Heathrow airport assorted spooks are watching a man being murdered; all recorded via CCTV. The suspect is Jack Reacher. Reacher here is just a presence and we see what he is capable of. Really impressive watching the intelligence of someone doing this all in plain sight but can he get away with it?

Fallen Woman by Mary Hoffman – A British journalist in Italy is saved at the last minutes from being hit by a woman plummeting to her death. His saviour once realising his profession takes a much too keen interest in his profession. Are these events connected? Hoffman creates a mystery of drug dealers, murders and adds in an unexpected love affair between the journalist and his investigating police officer Ettore. Tense, heart-warming and heart-breaking it’s a great short thriller giving you a huge story in just a few pages.

Blood on the Galway Shore by Ken Bruen – a funny wisecracking fisherman relates the tale of his life from his abusive childhood to his latest romance. In a very matter of fact way our narrator tells us all about the events in his life. You may find yourself really liking this man and excusing his behaviour but for how long? A story that puts the reader into an uncomfortable situation over how we feel about justice.

#METOO by Lauren Henderson -The PA to a notorious Hollywood agent explains her role and how she cleans up after his various conquests/assaults. She’s been hiding behind her professional aloofness, but one particular actress attracts her own attention and she wonders if finally, she has to act. Henderson paints a picture of a truly horrible man enjoying the abuse of his power but there is a subtler type of person grabbing power in this picture too. A clever and relevant story that will niggle you as to whether all the villains received justice.

The Ghost of Williamsburg by Jason Starr – A man is very comfortably indulging all his desires in internet dating and ghosts his conquests before any emotional ‘baggage’ can commence. One woman however shows she has her own ways of getting revenge. A truly horrible person getting their just desserts. In this case watching how someone engineers his fall is a delight. Smart and darkly amusing.

Black Dog by Cathi Unsworth – we move to a small village in WW2 England. A man has been brutally murdered, and a visiting inspector must piece together a tale that contains witches, magical dogs and revenge. Loved the way Unsworth painted this weird little village of ancient feuds. Really engaging puzzle to solve.

The Bell by Lavie Tidhar – in an Israeli shopping centre a middle-aged woman shoots dead a man then coolly leaves the building without detection. Deborah has her reasons. It’s a story of someone possibly doing the best for her family but also finding out she really enjoys a violent lifestyle. Part thriller and part tale of independence this is a weird but compelling tale. Another of my favourites.

This is a really strong tale with stories to appeal to all tastes from noir, ghosts and forensic science. Because it’s not a linked anthology you really don’t know what each story will do until you read it and the writing quality is very high. If you’d like to sample a taste of the best writers in the world in this field this is a great place to start.