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Blood Relations by J. Woollcott

An intriguing mystery that takes off in several directions and keeps you guessing, Blood Relations will have you immersed as DS Ryan McBride investigates the murder of retired Chief Inspector Mulligan. Although Ryan’s superior, Carol Whelan, would like to see the case closed as quickly as possible, suggesting Mulligan was targeted by someone he helped put in prison, Ryan’s gut instinct tells him there may be a more personal motive. With his partner, Billy Lamont assisting, they interview Mulligan’s son and daughter who had a troubled relationship with their father.

What adds to the appeal of this story is the family dynamics of the victim—their history and their present circumstances. Author Woollcott incorporates domestic drama with this police procedural, drawing the reader in for a psychological journey into dysfunctional family relationships. The crime element in Belfast is also a big part of this murder investigation. Secrets are exposed as the story is told through more than one character, showing not only the police side of the story, but also a more personal view. When the intricately woven story slowly unravels, the connection between family, criminal activity, and the murder is exposed with a satisfying conclusion. Justice is served in its own way.

The main character, Ryan McBride, is well-fleshed out with his home life, family, and relationships balancing the demands of his job, co-workers, and superiors. The dialogue and interactions between Ryan and the colourful secondary characters bring more to the reader than just a murder mystery. Politics in policing and social critique mix with tragedy but also a touch of humour as Woollcott showcases the world and people Ryan deals with. Along with great descriptions of the Irish countryside, Woolcott provides an enjoyable read as the mystery unfolds.

Blood Relations is an excellent follow-up to the first book in the series, A Nice Place to Die. Perfect for fans of Tana French. If you haven’t discovered J. Woollcott yet, pick up a DS McBride novel now.

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