‘Blood Ties’ by Heather Atkinson
The Queen of Glasgow, Toni McVay, is no ordinary crime boss.
For one thing, she likes to discipline disappointing employees by scooping out their eyeballs and keeping them as souvenirs. Jamie Gray and his gang the Blood Brothers are happy to do her dirty work in return for lessons in the ways of the local underworld, but are in no doubt that they need to keep Toni sweet to keep themselves safe.
Rival families The Gordons and The Thompsons are ready for a turf war, keen to take over the lucrative Gallowburn estate, and weaken Toni’s grip on the city. But can the old enemies really trust each other enough to join forces? And will their assumption that the Blood Brothers are the weak link in the McVay empire, prove to be their greatest mistake?
Meanwhile Jamie’s past refuses to stay hidden, and as his biggest secret looks set to be revealed with explosive consequences, Jamie faces the battle of his life. To keep his family safe, to keep his friends safe, to keep himself safe, and to keep the woman he loves alive.
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It is almost exactly a year since I first reviewed a novel by Heather Atkinson. Attracted by the Glasgow setting, I was full of praise for Atkinson’s ‘Blood Brothers’ and saw her as a “safe pair of hands”.
In June, I reviewed the sequel to ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘Bad Blood’ and I went on an almost hallucinatory literary mash up, taking the bone jarring violence of the novel – especially in the visceral opening battle scene on the streets of her fictional scheme, Gallowgate – and mashed it up with a plethora of ‘Macbeth’ quotes.
Which was different, if nothing else.
Here, though, Atkinson’s latest novel begins to move into different territory. There is a calmer tone, especially in the opening stages of the novel and the sense in which the author is focusing less on the crash, bang, wallop-there-goes-a-chain-to-the-face of the earlier instalments and more on the expanding cast of characters who inhabit the scheme.
It is like the world is expanding and we are peeking behind the curtains of these characters lives. There’s also a humour and a lightness of tone which was not so much in evidence in the earlier outings for these characters.
Fans of the genre and this author should not be concerned, however, there are still plenty of battles and Machiavellian scheming gangsters to go around – and that’s before we get as far as the women who, as in the Godfather, are more dangerous than shotguns.
Atkinson remains an extremely safe pair of hands ‘Blood Ties’ heralds yet another enjoyable and accomplished outing for the folk of the Gallowgate.
There is one moan I have with the novel – although I doubt it is serious or will damage anyone’s enjoyment of the work- No one in Glasgow has called a tattie scone a potato cake in the history of the world.
Either way, I’m sure we’ll live – which is more than can be said when you go against the Blood Brothers.
Author Bio –
Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre. Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland.
Social Media Links –
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Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-atkinson
Boldwood’s IG account – https://www.instagram.com/bookandtonic/