#bookreview: BLOOD FOR BLOOD by Victoria Selman

Ciao, amici! Time for another book review.

I chose this one because of the “London serial killer” concept, one of my favorite types of books to read. You can find what I thought about it below:

★★★☆☆ Mixed Bag

Blood for Blood came with a list of professional accolades, and as serial killer psychological thrillers always appeal to me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it.

I come away from it not really knowing how I feel about it.

The villain’s motivations are fascinating and compelling. The heroine is damaged yet dedicated. There are an abundance of clues, suspects, and red herrings that kept me guessing for quite a while. And the secondary characters are almost more endearing than the main ones.

But I just couldn’t get into it. And I think it was the language.

I read a lot of fiction from “across the pond” and I don’t get tripped up by our different meanings for things like trunk/boot, elevator/lift, fries/chips, etc. In fact, I find those differences help immerse me in such stories. I also don’t have a problem with “salty” language. In fact, I think for military and police and other alpha characters, it’s realistic even if sometimes excessive.

Those weren’t the issue. This story had a different problem. The main character used such odd turns of phrase, particularly when she got worked up, that it felt forced and contrived. It seemed like the author wanted the main character’s language to be creative and stand out. And it did stand out—but not in a good way. Not for me, at least. It pulled me out of the story. I also thought the explanations of her conclusions (from a profiler’s perspective) felt telling and heavy-handed. In the end, I suppose it depends on what matters more to a reader: plot or voice. I highly recommend the story from a plot perspective, but not so much with respect to voice. I might try another book by this author, as she knows how to weave together threads of a story, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing with this series.


Ziba Mackenzie profiles killers. Now one is profiling her.

Rush hour, London. A packed commuter train is torn apart in a collision. Picking through the carnage, ex-special forces profiler Ziba MacKenzie helps a dying woman who passes on a cryptic message: He did it. You have to tell someone.

When a corpse is found bearing the gruesome signature of a serial killer dormant for twenty-five years, Ziba is pulled into the hunt for the perpetrator. As the body count rises it becomes clear he’s on a new spree. But what’s brought the London Lacerator back after such a long hiatus? And does his sudden return have anything to do with the woman on the train?

Ziba scrambles to profile the killer in the hope of predicting his next move. But time is running out. And the closer she gets to uncovering his identity, the closer he gets to destroying hers.

Amazon Purchase Link

28 thoughts on “#bookreview: BLOOD FOR BLOOD by Victoria Selman

  1. Good review, Staci! I’ve read books like that as well, where either the voice or the plot is really good, but something in the other (contrived plot device, character voice weirdness) throws me out of the story. Happens to me also when there’s too much detail (think Kathy Reichs’ superb descriptions of the job of a forensic pathologist, but I really don’t need three pages worth).

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I loved the show BONES, but I never read any of Reichs’s work. Every time I see the show in syndication, I tell myself to look them up on Amazon, and then I forget. I love detailed writing (when it’s done well), but three pages might be too much for me. I’m glad you mentioned her, though. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  3. The cover and title are good, too bad the story didn’t pan out. Not saying it’s the same here, but mood matters to me when reading a book. If I’m morose, the story better be dark as well, or if I’m happy (rare 🙂 ), the book should reflect that or it doesn’t hold my interest.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I usually don’t start to read a book that doesn’t match my mood. But if I do, and if it’s awesome, it can impact my mood considerably.

      This one just left me unaffected. Which is sad. I want a book to impact the heck out of me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. You’re nicer than me. If the voice, characters, or story rhythm doesn’t appeal to me, no matter how clever the plot is, I put the book down. Too many excellent books out there to waste time with one that’s not working for whatever reason. That said, I applaud your determination to finish.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I used to finish books no matter what. Now, I’ll quit on them if I’m too frustrated. In this case, the plot was good and I really wanted to see how it played out. It was worth the painful voice, but that voice was a distraction. In the end, I’m glad I finished it. But I won’t start book two. You’re right; there are too many better options out there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the review, Staci:) I’m not sure I would have finished reading this book. I have to love the characters. Like you, a London set killer catches my attention. I was a big Agatha Christie fan.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, Agatha. She’s unparalleled.

        The plot did spur me on, although I have to admit it took me longer to read this book than others. I just kept getting pulled out.

        Yay for London serial killer fans! (Readers and writers, not actual killers, of course.)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely sounds like a mixed bag of a book. It’s great that she intrigued you enough to consider giving another of her novels a try. This one clearly didn’t hit the mark with you. I had two DNFs last month so I applaud you for sticking with the book. Sounds like it had enough good points to keep you reading, but just didn’t hit the mark of exceptional.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really was a mixed bag, and I did want to finish. I was compelled to see how she worked it all out. It was just the character’s language that I struggled with. A different MC with different vernacular could make all the difference for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Like you, the terminology from across the pond isn’t an issue for me but, most of the time, if I can’t find a connection with the MC, it’s not a very satisfying read. And voice can be a big issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to finish any book I started, no matter how bad. Now, my TBR list is too long and my time is too valuable. This one was good enough to finish. I just hated being pulled out of the story so often by the voice.


    • You’re absolutely right. That’s why I posted the review. I used to not post anything other than fours and fives, but then I realized what bothers me may not bother other people. So I decided to share. It is a good plot. And based on the accolades it’s received, it clearly works for someone.


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