In an idyllic neighbourhood of Copenhagen, a young woman, Susanne Hansson, is discovered in her apartment bound and gagged, the victim of an extraordinarily brutal rape attack. Detective Inspector Louise Rick soon learns that Susanne met the rapist on a popular online dating site, something Susanne shamefully tries to hide. Events quickly spiral out of control as a horrified Louise realises that the rapist is using the website to target specific women for future attacks. It’s not long before the next assault leads to its victim’s death and Louise finds herself in the middle of a full-blown murder investigation. Undercover and in danger in a world of faceless dating, Louise must try and stop a murderer who has shocked Copenhagen to its core. But how much is she willing to risk in order to catch a killer?

Already a firmly established author in her native Denmark with a million plus sales, ‘Blue Blood’ is Sara Blaedel’s debut crime thriller in the UK market. I have to say that I wasn’t completely blown away by it, but would quickly add that there is nothing inherently wrong with it either. Revolving around the investigation of a series of internet dating related rapes ‘Blue Blood’ introduces us to DI Louise Rick, a professional and focused police officer who is portrayed as exactly what she is, a good solid detective. With only a small dose of emotional baggage, that to me didn’t really add anything to the plot, Louise embarks on her search for a particularly sadistic rapist in a clear-sighted and methodical way, and as is usual in most crime thrillers ends up with her facing down the perpetrator with little thought to her own personal safety. I think as a character she probably lacks a certain personal intensity bordering on dull, and even in her relationship with her colleagues there does not seem to be much spark or interesting interaction between them. The only character that really illuminates Louise is her friend Camilla Lind, who for me lit up the book and added a bit of feistiness to the whole proceedings. With her role as a journalist and single mother, Camilla seemed a more vital and interesting character within the story and I enjoyed the interplay between her and the starchy Louise.

 The central premise of the plot, centred on the inherent dangers of internet dating, was a trifle pedestrian, but I would counterblance that by saying that due to my reading of an inordinate amount of crime, I have encountered very similar storylines before so it held no great surprises for me personally. However, the plot was solid enough in terms of the police procedural with enough twists to satisfy most. I would probably liken the book to Camilla Lackberg in terms of overall style and characterisation, but would hesitate to draw comparisons with the darker psychological writers of the Scandinavian crime genre which generally appeal to me more.

 Despite my reservations I would certainly read Blaedel again, having already acquired a copy of ‘Farewell To Freedom’, again featuring DI Louise Rick and Camilla Lind and focusing on the exploitative world of human trafficking, so will be interested to see how the character of Louise develops in this next book.

 Visit the author’s website here: http://sarablaedel.com/

 Sara Blaedel interviewed by Mark Billingham: http://www.littlebrown.co.uk/Sphere/mark-billingham-interviews-sara-blaedel.page
(Thanks to Sphere for the advance reading copy)

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