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In the Blood

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Tied to a derelict pier in Orkney, the bloated remains of a man bob in the waves, under the shadow of forbidding Sandisquoy House. The locals know him as William Spencer, but newly-promoted DCI Lukas Mahler identifies him as Alex Fleming, his former boss. Unable to step away from the case, Mahler tries to piece together why Fleming would retire to such a remote location. Tied to a derelict pier in Orkney, the bloated remains of a man bob in the waves, under the shadow of forbidding Sandisquoy House. The locals know him as William Spencer, but newly-promoted DCI Lukas Mahler identifies him as Alex Fleming, his former boss. Unable to step away from the case, Mahler tries to piece together why Fleming would retire to such a remote location. But the deeper he digs, the more disturbing the investigation becomes.Seal bones, witches' salve and runic symbols appear everywhere he looks, ushering Mahler towards Fleming's most notorious unsolved case: the horrific 'Witchfinder' murders. And towards a dark and uncomfortable truth someone has gone to great lengths to bury ...


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Tied to a derelict pier in Orkney, the bloated remains of a man bob in the waves, under the shadow of forbidding Sandisquoy House. The locals know him as William Spencer, but newly-promoted DCI Lukas Mahler identifies him as Alex Fleming, his former boss. Unable to step away from the case, Mahler tries to piece together why Fleming would retire to such a remote location. Tied to a derelict pier in Orkney, the bloated remains of a man bob in the waves, under the shadow of forbidding Sandisquoy House. The locals know him as William Spencer, but newly-promoted DCI Lukas Mahler identifies him as Alex Fleming, his former boss. Unable to step away from the case, Mahler tries to piece together why Fleming would retire to such a remote location. But the deeper he digs, the more disturbing the investigation becomes.Seal bones, witches' salve and runic symbols appear everywhere he looks, ushering Mahler towards Fleming's most notorious unsolved case: the horrific 'Witchfinder' murders. And towards a dark and uncomfortable truth someone has gone to great lengths to bury ...

32 review for In the Blood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is the third in Margaret Kirk's DCI Lukas Mahler series set in Inverness and the Orkney Islands, I have read the first, but somehow missed the second. Mahler is covering as DCI with his boss, DCI June Wallace on sick leave. Detective Superintendent Chae Hunt has used June's absence to move the Major Incident Team from their old station to Divisional HQ at Inshes, there are clear lines of tension between Hunt and Mahler, particularly as Mahler finds it hard to purely oversee cases, he just c This is the third in Margaret Kirk's DCI Lukas Mahler series set in Inverness and the Orkney Islands, I have read the first, but somehow missed the second. Mahler is covering as DCI with his boss, DCI June Wallace on sick leave. Detective Superintendent Chae Hunt has used June's absence to move the Major Incident Team from their old station to Divisional HQ at Inshes, there are clear lines of tension between Hunt and Mahler, particularly as Mahler finds it hard to purely oversee cases, he just cannot help being hands on. Mahler moved from the London Met to Inverness when his mother's health started to deteriorate, and his history at the Met allows him to identify a dead man tied to the posts of a disused jetty outside his home, the desolate, dark, dilapidated and gothic Sandisquoy House. The reclusive man had been going under the name of William Spencer, but Mahler knows him as his old boss at the Met, DI Alex Fleming, who had taken early retirement after the lack of success in solving the notorious Witchfinder case where 3 women were murdered with signs of occult practices left either on the body or nearby. Fleming's murder suggests a link with the old case, stones and bones in his pocket, and whilst nominally acting DI Iain 'Fergie' Ferguson is in charge, Mahler cannot leave it alone. Fleming had provided him with crucial support in his early career, a man he had respected and admired, but perhaps Mahler had been too close to Fleming to see the wood for the trees. There are multiple threads in the story, interspersed in the narrative is Fleming's life prior to his death, the court appeal from a killer that upsets both Anna and Mahler, the involvement of DCI Harkness from Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism from Gartcosh in the drugs trade, and so much more. Kirk's crime novel is jam packed with so much going on, and in addition there is the inclusion of old Viking folklore, myths and legends, selkies, seal bones, runes, the use of a witches 'flying' ointment and a macabre find in the grounds of Sandisquoy House. Mahler makes a fascinating protagonist, with his childhood traumas, his inability to open up to Anna, their relationship a precarious affair, the work overload that means he is not there for his mother and missing key emails, and his inability to see his old boss, Fleming clearly, there are often good reasons to not get too involved in cases where you have a personal connection. This is a darkly intense, gritty, and atmospheric addition to what is a great tartan noir crime series. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    4 - 5 rounded up. Orkney: Sandisquoy House. ‘William Spencer’ is discovered tied to a jetty and most definitely dead by the unfortunate postie. The case is investigated by the local Orcadian force in Kirkwall and by Inverness MIT, in particular DCI Lukas Mahler. Is this Mahler’s former Met boss Alex Fleming? This is a desolate, isolated place and almost completely off the grid, so why has Fleming been living here under an assumed name? This is a very disturbing tale which has links to previous i 4 - 5 rounded up. Orkney: Sandisquoy House. ‘William Spencer’ is discovered tied to a jetty and most definitely dead by the unfortunate postie. The case is investigated by the local Orcadian force in Kirkwall and by Inverness MIT, in particular DCI Lukas Mahler. Is this Mahler’s former Met boss Alex Fleming? This is a desolate, isolated place and almost completely off the grid, so why has Fleming been living here under an assumed name? This is a very disturbing tale which has links to previous investigations and plenty more besides! This is a really good, darkly clever and extremely atmospheric Tartan Noir Thriller. The plot is complex and riveting and is well paced, full of action, tension and shocking discoveries. The settings especially in Orkney adds a very particular atmosphere which is almost Gothic in tone and the autumnal weather adds an extra dimension. The characters are really good and I find Lukas particularly fascinating. He’s so intriguing, carrying a ton of unresolved baggage, he’s intelligent, intuitive in investigations, a bit clumsy in his dealings with people and can be closed off. I do so like a central character with complexity and he has that in abundance! There is a lot going on in this, we have the Fleming investigation and storyline which takes is into the territory of Orcadian legends such as Selkies and healers and especially fascinating is a Viking rune element. There’s a link to a past case in London which is a very disturbing unsolved one, there’s an Organised Crime operation as well as a court appeal for a killer from a previous case which is particularly close to Lukas. Trust me, it all works extremely well and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next but you want to race on to find out! There’s a lot to admire here but the unpredictability is extremely good and the end is brilliant and I can’t wait for the next instalment! I hope we don’t have to wait too long! Overall, this is a cracking book, it’s a little belter as we say in these here parts!! If you like gritty crime drama with a densely rich, intelligent plot line then this is for you! With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Orion for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Tomasso

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for an advance copy of In the Blood, the third novel to feature Acting DCI Lucas Mahler of the Inverness Police. A body is found tied to a post in the North Sea in Orkney. He is identified as Billy Spencer but Lukas knows him as Alex Fleming, his old boss at The Met. What was he doing, living in a remote house on a remote island? The more Lukas and the team dig, the more they don’t understand, especially the references to the mystical pas I would like to thank Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for an advance copy of In the Blood, the third novel to feature Acting DCI Lucas Mahler of the Inverness Police. A body is found tied to a post in the North Sea in Orkney. He is identified as Billy Spencer but Lukas knows him as Alex Fleming, his old boss at The Met. What was he doing, living in a remote house on a remote island? The more Lukas and the team dig, the more they don’t understand, especially the references to the mystical past and one of Alex’s old cases. I thoroughly enjoyed In the Blood, which is a gripping police procedural, full of location, atmosphere and history. I have not read the previous novels in the series, as they are buried somewhere in my over extensive TBR, but I didn’t really feel the loss. There are references in this one to previous events, but they are well enough explained that prior knowledge isn’t required. The novel is mostly told from Lukas’s point of view with other characters broadening the perspective from time to time, notably the victim’s thoughts and actions in the run up to his murder, which add a certain frisson to proceedings. I found the plot engrossing, although, whether it was my mood or not, I thought it sagged a little in the middle, diverting to other cases and spending too much time on occult practices. Don’t get me wrong, this latter is interesting but it distracts from the investigation. The finale, however, is suitably exciting with action and bombshell revelations. I like the sense of place the author offers about the Orkneys, rubbish weather (only to be expected in Scotland) giving a sense of brooding and desolation and a culture steeped in history and legend that appears fey, if not supernatural at times. I also liked the occasional humour and dark cynicism that seem to imbue the Scots. Lukas Mahler is an interesting character. He is obviously smart, but carries a lot of emotional baggage that gets in the way of his interpersonal relationships, like dealing with his potential girlfriend and overly controlling his mother. He’s quite strange in this respect. In the Blood is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I'd forgotten how much I like Lukas Mahler and the team in Inverness. He's far from perfect as a character - haunted by his past and prone to feelings of guilt - but he is very likeable and I find myself easily rooting for him and hoping that he is able to get to the bottom of whatever complex case Margaret Kirk has thrown his way. And believe me, when it comes to complex, this one is a doozy. Not only that but it has. very personal connections for Mahler, ones which may yet prove to be his undo I'd forgotten how much I like Lukas Mahler and the team in Inverness. He's far from perfect as a character - haunted by his past and prone to feelings of guilt - but he is very likeable and I find myself easily rooting for him and hoping that he is able to get to the bottom of whatever complex case Margaret Kirk has thrown his way. And believe me, when it comes to complex, this one is a doozy. Not only that but it has. very personal connections for Mahler, ones which may yet prove to be his undoing. Now when it comes to unusual deaths, the murder that opens up this book is both simple and yet strangely stomach churning at the same time. It's a relatively straightforward case of drowning - after a fashion - but it is in a far from straightforward location, and with the victim residing in a place which is isolated, unwelcoming and the subject of real local legend, the case is anything but plain sailing for Mahler and the police team on Orkney where the victim, Alex Fleming, resides. When you add in the fact that Mahler knows and has worked with the victim and that last case they worked on was complex and unresolved, the list of suspects is both wide open and also very hard to pin down, especially when you add it he fact that no-one even knew. that he was living there. This is part urban legend, part murder mystery and the way in which Margaret Kirk has combined a kind of gothic style setting and a supernatural undertone really drew me into the story. This is exactly the kind of mash-up of stories and genres that I love, never quite knowing if there is something slightly less corporeal behind the dastardly deeds that are being done. Everything, from the creepy old house that Fleming hid himself away in, to the macabre discoveries that they make in the wake of the investigation, adds that special layer of suspense and mystery to the story, and the atmospheric setting of a remote part of Orkney in the midst of some very changeable weather fronts adds to the tension that builds throughout the book. There are several threads to the story, adn certainly exploring some of the case which Fleming and Mahler worked on in London helps readers to discover more about Mahler's past, as well as leading to some very chilling aspects in the current case. alongside this, Mahler's on-off relationship with Anna is sorely tested as they await the outcome of an appeal by a former foe. Whilst this won't necessarily be resolved to everyone's satisfaction in this book, it certainly sets up the promise of something very dark and menacing to come. I tore through this book in pretty much one sitting, loving both the back and forth between the characters and the suspense filled storyline. The book sees Mahler in a temporary promotion, and that in itself is a source of some conflict as he cannot quite bring himself to step away from the investigation, much to the chagrin of his boss, Chae Hunt. There are other elements of conflict which are dotted throughout the book, covert operations into local drugs cartels, and the threat really does come from some very surprising places, keeping readers fully on their toes. I certainly didn't see what was coming until it hit me, and slightly more literally Mahler, square in the face. But I definitely loved it and cannot wait to see what the author serves up next. Most definitely recommended, although if you've not read at least book one, I suggest you take a quick trip back to the start, one because you are missing a treat if you don't, but there are key scenes from this book that link back to Mahler's first case so you won't want to miss it. I am now off to make plans to travel to Orkney whenever covid and travel restrictions allow. Margaret Kirk has whetted my appetite for a visit.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margy Houtz

  6. 4 out of 5

    Colin

  7. 5 out of 5

    John MacLeod

  8. 4 out of 5

    Johnboy Somerville

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ailhlin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Don Milne

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  13. 4 out of 5

    Livia

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jules Hayes

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie Thorpe

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Ross

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ross Cruickshank

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janet McCarvill

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann Cutting

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gordon Cox

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marion

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alan Thomson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Val Innes

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  31. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  32. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Ray

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