BOOK CLUB: Blood & Ink

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Blood & Ink by Brett Adams melds a pretty classic murder mystery plot with an unusual slant on the perpetrator. The result is a genuinely tricky novel, likely to have readers going backwards and forwards as they try to decide what’s really going on.

Jack Griffen is a professor of literature in Perth. While he’s reasonably successful professionally, his personal life is nothing to boast about. His ex-wife and daughter have relocated to the USA. He’s somehow let most of his friends slip away. His health is precarious, and so are his finances.

Despite this, or maybe partly because of it, Jack enjoys showing off for exchange student Hieronymus Beck. Hiero, as Jack calls him, begged to be allowed to sit in on Jack’s classes. He spends hours with Jack, debating literature and – as Jack sees it – lapping up Jack’s wisdom and experience.

One night, Hiero accidentally leaves behind a copy of the notes for his proposed crime novel. Jack glances through them, thinks Hiero has a lot of work to do, and thinks nothing more of it. But then, before he can return the notes to Hiero, an attack takes place: one eerily similar to the first crime depicted in Hiero’s notes.

Soon Jack finds himself asking whether Hiero is plotting a novel, or plotting a series of murders. And in either case, what’s Jack going to do about it?

It’s hard to say more about this novel without including spoilers. Suffice to say that quite a complex web is woven. I’ll bet you decide early on that you know what’s going on and who’s doing what. And I also bet that you’ll change your mind about that half a dozen times before the end.

This is a really good mix of familiar tropes, moments of “aaargh, I saw that coming, why didn’t he?”, and surprising twists and turns. It’s very effective, often letting you think you’ve worked it out before it shoves you off balance again.

It does take a little time to sink into the world of the novel. Indeed, I found that I couldn’t read it in short, snatched bursts – I had to leave it until I could spend a decent amount of time with the novel. But once I found that time, I became absorbed in the narrative. It’s not exactly unputdownable, but it’s certainly a novel that holds your attention for extended periods.

I really appreciated that it was best suited to longer stretches of reading – this feels a little unusual and I liked the way it made “Blood & Ink” stand out for me.

A substantial part of the novel is told from Jack’s point of view. He’s a very familiar character – most readers will feel that they know him. This is where much of the emotion of the novel comes from. Not just Jack’s reactions to events, but our growing frustration with and for him as events seem to spiral out of his control, and our immersion in his emotions.

This is primarily a novel for crime readers. However, it might also appeal to readers who like to have their expectations confounded, or to those who look primarily for strong characters.

I enjoyed this very much. It’s different in flavour to many other crime novels, while still planting itself firmly in the genre. It’s well written, and well suited to the sort of evening when you have a couple of hours to curl up with a good book. 

ISBN: 9781760 990879

Copy courtesy of Fremantle Press (2022)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Blood & Ink by Brett AdamsYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

6 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Blood & Ink

  1. A very clever thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I only wish the start was stronger, the reason Jack gets himself into the situation is weak and not convincing. But once you get past that it is fantastic. The creepy stalker (Heironymous Beck) gave me Netlix’s ‘You’ vibes. Blood & Ink would make a fantastic tv series.

  2. “Blood & Ink” is a tale in a tale. A thriller of authors, murder, travel, depression and challenge.
    Jack thought he had a bond with would be author Heiro, they talk frequently about literature and how to write the novel that works. Little did Jack expect that he would become the story of Heiro’s delight.
    After finding notes of the to be novel, Jack wakes to find that some of the notes have become truth. How could that be, could Heiro be acting on his notes, making a fiction into non-fiction? Is he that depraved.
    Further and further down the rabbit hole of the story of Heironymous Beck does Jack travel, the thriller keeping you wondering what next??
    Although a good story in total I did not find it drawing me in as much as I had hoped. The situations and incidents seemed, at least for the first half of the book, a bit unrealistic, and though I do not expect realism in all my novels, it had me asking “really???”
    I’m a fence sitter on this book, but not because it was a bad read, it was written well, you could picture what was going on, I just wasn’t ready to be in that place, clearly.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Brett Adams for a chance to read this tale or torture and mystery.

  3. Perth literary professor Jack Griffen has a student admirer, a guy named Hiero Beck who proclaims to be ‘researching’ a new book.

    After visiting the professor’s office one day, Hiero leaves behind a folder which appears to contain blueprints for violent crimes and murders.

    When Jack attempts to alert police, they suspect he is the true offender.
    And so begins an international chase between Jack, Hiero and a London police officer named Marten.

    Blood and Ink was such an exciting thriller. You start to question if Hiero Beck really exists or if he’s a character in Jack’s mind.

    You’ll have to read the book to find out who the real ‘killer’ is and how it all concludes. It was a heart racing finish, just the kind of book I love!

  4. This was a great book, nail biting, edge of the seat thriller that is sure to keep you well entertained until the end.
    I loved the storyline of the ‘friend’ (aka professor) becoming the main character of the ‘book’ his student is writing, and the twists and turns that Jack (the main character) navigates as he becomes more aware of just what is going on. Or is that just the story he tells police?

    Is Jack a clever criminal or the victim of something more sinister?!!! Highly recommend this read.

  5. This was a multi-layered story within a story that grabbed my attention from the start.

    Being a Perth girl the initial setting was familiar and I could easily picture the story taking place. As the story travelled, the attention to detail was fantastic and I felt that I could almost pick the places out on a map.

    The story was very cleverly played and the characters played their roles well. I really liked the links to technology and the role it played too.

    It was a great story that kept my attention to the end.

  6. I love some crime fiction and this one was an interesting read. The story follows professor Griffen, a literature professor who suspects one of his students is committing murders based on a book he is writing. When I read the premise for this I thought it would be right up my alley. It was very well written….I defintly got more invested in the story and characters as it went along ( it did take me a bit to get into it) ..and lends it’s self to becoming a fast pace thriller with many different settings around the globe.

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