Thank you to the author, publisher and Love Books Tours for the copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
Let’s start with the blurb: Ritchie’s life is shadowed by the death of his wife, Cat, in a car accident twenty-two years previously. He was the driver. He loves his children – Nic, who is bi-polar and often impulsive, and Jack. Both are active in the campaign to welcome asylum-seekers and refugees to Britain. His life comes to a crisis and he realises how much his children despise his trade in advertising and how much the loss of Cat still means to them all. Ritchie abandons his career but achieves new success in driving Britain’s treatment of refugees up the political agenda. This earns him the respect of his children but brings him to the attention of Makepeace, the populist Home Secretary. Nic, his daughter, strives to show she can overcome her disorder. She infiltrates a people-trafficking gang but is arrested as a criminal. Makepeace uses this to blackmail Ritchie to help him in his political schemes. Ritchie is horrified to discover that his task is to sell the reintroduction of forced labour, modern slavery, to the public. As a result he is once again rejected by his children. Ritchie has reached rock bottom. He is desolate but believes he can outsmart Makepeace. Blood Ties shows how he finally resolves the situation, embraces the causes his children hold dear and reunites his family.
I enjoy thrillers but this isn’t necessarily the kind of book I would pick up in a store or library, as I prefer to keep politics separate from fiction since I read to relax. I changed my preconceptions as soon as I began to read it though, as it had me riveted from start to finish. It made me wish I could read faster to find out what was going to happen next! Whilst we join the protagonist at a pivotal point in his life and are introduced to his adult children, the narration made me feel like I’d always known this family.
One of my pet peeves is when a character’s past is dropped in to the narrative in a jarring way, ruining the flow and sometimes making me lose interest: ‘Bob stepped into the room and looked for his sister. They hadn’t spoken since the day that….’ (cue lengthy entry on what had happened, by the end of which I’ve forgotten where Bob is and what’s happening). In Blood Ties, the past was built into the story smoothly and not an eye was rolled on my part! The characters are well-developed and I especially loved the author’s portrayal of Nic and her struggle with her mental health.
I’d never thought in depth about how modern slavery has crept insidiously into so many parts of society, hiding in plain sight, before starting this book. It’s given me food for thought and whilst the book is fictional, it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe in the events actually happening.
I’d recommend this novel to fans of John Grisham and political thrillers, or to those who enjoy fiction with a sense of “it really could happen.”