Tyce’s pacing is first-rate, and she excels at rendering her heroine’s oscillation between panic and control; but her debut feels too derivative, and too calculated a reworking and fusion of previous hits.
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce is a hectic, volatile mix of domestic noir and legal thriller with added sexual misbehaviour. Alison Wood is a promising criminal barrister who has been given her first murder case, defending a woman who admits to killing her violent husband... Lots and lots of things happen to everyone. It’s not easy to find a character worthy of sympathy, but Blood Orange is dark and immensely readable. An impressive debut.
The legal terminology comes off the page with authority and confidence – Tyce clearly knows what she is talking about... Unfortunately, Blood Orange doesn’t have all that much more to offer beyond this promising set-up... While there are a few twists and turns along the way, they all arrive within the last quarter of the book, and some of the more interesting questions they raise are quickly brushed under the carpet to make way for an easily digestible ending.
A former lawyer herself, Tyce brings her fictional world to dark, unsettling life. An arguably off-key bit of plotting towards the end threw me slightly, but fans of Apple Tree Yard and The Girl on the Train will love the atmosphere of clenched ambiguity Tyce sustains so well.
Tyce is excellent on the amorphous horrors of alcoholism and mornings after, on the slow chipping away of self-belief in an abusive relationship, and, as a former criminal barrister herself, on the details of the criminal justice system. Complex and menacing, this is a very impressive debut.
Tyce, a former barrister, captures well the romance and restless squalor of hard-drinking London lawyers, understands how effectively sex and alcohol work in fiction as emotional accelerants and is pleasingly nuanced about the transgressive thrill of self-destruction. Blood Orange is glittering and fierce and resolutely unsentimental, a glorious bonfire of a marriage thriller.
Not for the faint-hearted, this disturbing tale expertly weaves together murder, sex and mystery for a plot with added bite.