A kidnapper who’s dead.
Nobody believes her.
Nothing will stop her.
Everything changes for Doctor Jemma Sands when she tries to save the life of a car crash victim rushed to A&E. The young woman, Toppy Mrazek, is pregnant. Jemma is faced with a terrible dilemma: either she can save the mother or the baby. Jemma saves the mother, a decision which has terrible consequences.
When Jemma’s five-year-old son Matthew goes missing, only Jemma believes that her vengeful patient has stolen her child. After all, how do you convince police to search for a dead woman, one who survived a car crash only to drown on holiday? As her world falls apart, Jemma realises she is the only one who can save her son. If somebody took your only child, how far would you go to get him back?
From its explosive opening chapter Slow Bleed grabs you by the throat and is entirely unwilling to relinquish its grip from that point on. Balancing the demands of both a thriller, and an exploration of the darker side of the medical profession and the lucrative world of the pharmaceutical business, Tim Adler produces a tense and gripping crime read, in his first foray into the crime fiction genre.
I would have to say that this a genuine easy reading thriller, that as the story ebbs and flows, leading the reader in unexpected directions, you will fair whip through this. With the central character of Doctor Jemma Sands, a professional and steady woman of good character and a seemingly settled home life, Adler seems to take a genuine delight into uprooting everything she holds to be true and most treasured, and turning her world upside down. From her initial interaction performing a life saving operation on the mysterious Toppy Mrazek, Jemma’s life goes into tailspin, as she discovers an emotional connection between her duplicitous husband and Toppy, but most tellingly that Toppy is in no way, shape, or form the woman she appears to be, and will prove to be Jemma’s arch nemesis. As Toppy begins to malevolently influence all corners of Jemma’s comfortable life, our intrepid doctor must draw on all her resources to outwit her opponent, particularly when her child’s life is threatened. For me, this was the most successful aspect of the book, as Adler really seemed to tap into the female mentality and the ‘lioness’ instinct, that is demonstrated by both women. Although it is quickly evident that Toppy possesses a singularly devious and self assured character, that shapes and dictates her less than honourable deeds, it is interesting to see how Jemma grows in stature and strength, as she is thrust into a whole host of dangerous situations, and how those around her seek to manipulate her. As she is led down blind alleys, and placed in danger- particularly by those she puts her trust in- she begins to think outside her own complacent reality, and proves herself a more than worthy adversary to the troublesome Toppy- but who will come out on top?
With my normal honesty, I won’t pretend that the plot was without flaws and there were certain incidents that did require a little leap of faith by the reader, particularly in relation to a brief sojourn across the Channel, and sometimes a little too much reliance on slightly clunky coincidences. However, such is the breathless pace of this thriller, any small kinks in the general story arc can be forgiven to keep the action moving forward. As the reader’s empathy is aroused by our emotionally bruised and battered heroine, you are quickly moved from chapter to chapter, to see the next twist in Jemma’s nightmare. A good page-turner overall.
Tim Adler is an author and journalist who has written for Financial Times, The Times and the Daily Telegraph among others. His debut psychological thriller Slow Bleed went to number #1 in the Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. The Sunday Times called Tim’s latest non-fiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Daily Telegraph gave it 5 stars. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob — an exposé of how the Mafia has corrupted the movie industry – was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail. Tim is former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website. Before that, he edited film trade magazine Screen Finance — described by Evening Standard as “highly influential” – as well as TV business magazine New Media Markets. He regularly features as a pundit on BBC Radio 4’s Today, BBC Breakfast and Sky News. Follow on Twitter @timadlerauthor