Review: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. 

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. 

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. 

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

 

Alison Bailey is a successful barrister and has just been given her first murder case after 15 years of hard work. On her way up the work ladder, she’s made some bad decisions, as her dedication to her career and extramarital affairs has put strain on her family life. She knows she should be at home with her husband and their beautiful daughter, but she just can’t help herself. But she’s decided she’s going to stop messing about and make her family unit perfect again. Only, Alison is about to learn that actions have consequences, and someone isn’t going to let her get away with her screwups.
Blood Orange is about how deceit can complicate and wreck the very fabric of a person’s life, and even worse, a family, all the while promising things are very rarely black and white.

This has been one of those reads I’ve had to mull over. I didn’t love this, nor did I hate it. It’s a complicated one, but I’ll do my best to keep my review helpful for prospective readers.

In a nutshell, Blood Orange contains: family drama between spouses, a questionable narrator, lovers’ betrayals, a taunt mystery regarding Alison’s client, a jolting climax and legal proceedings thrown in amongst it all.

My biggest qualm with this book was its repetition. I was reading a cycle of regurgitated material chapter upon chapter . It wasn’t until around 60% it felt like the plot was actually going somewhere beyond a woman who can’t decide what she wants and letting men treat her like crap. Naturally, these issues led somewhere, but it was tiresome to read tonnes of repetition to get to the point of it.

The next problem lay with the fact none of the characters were likeable. I feel like I’m being slightly dishonest in saying that, because whilst I didn’t like Alison, I like what her character stood for. She’s your typical female character that appears strong and successful, that other females would envy, but on the inside it’s a very different story. Her husband considers her a borderline alcoholic and negligent mother/wife. I felt the faux, envious assumption of perfection people have in each other was portrayed well due to how true to life it is. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors.

I found the ending unsatisfying. Due to my lack of engagement with the characters, I wasn’t invested in the “big ending” for it to have any impact. This is one of those stories that introduces a BANG! of a twist in the last 10 pages, and then abruptly ends.
I don’t find “twists” like these in the last pages shocking, they’re more often than not confusing or irritating because they’re not explored more in light of the big revelation, which Blood Orange is certainly guilty of. I definitely felt the ending needed more for the way the plot turned; a lot of the repetition in the book’s earlier chapters could have been altered/deleted, for the end’s twist to be explored further.

The most enjoyable aspect of this book is it’s an easy read with short chapters. It is one of those books you can pick up and devour in a day or two if you’re in the mood for a quick novel.

Perhaps the best and most unexpected element of this book was its depiction of how rape transpires in situations that are typically (and wrongly) considered messy. The author illustrated quite perfectly how consent may be present and given at one stage, and then it isn’t given for what may follow next. This “blurred lines” idea of consent was handled very well, because for me, it clearly illustrated how it happens and should be treated more seriously. And I hope it helps other readers who need better understanding that no means no, even when consent has been present, and then it’s not. No/stop always means no/stop, at any stage, period.

Overall, I read this within a day and I’m rating it 3 stars. I think the idea of the story was good, but its execution wasn’t successful in ensnaring me as a reader, and left me more frustrated than anything else. Some parts of the story are predictable as the author provides clues to give the reader that uneasy feeling that something is quite amiss, but it mostly fell flat due to the sluggish pace of repetition. I think it’s worth a read for anyone who wants to devour a quick puzzling mystery with good portrayals of sensitive issues such as rape, but I forewarn it may leave you more frustrated than satisfied.

Buy It Now

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Published
Genre: mystery, suspense

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