I picked up Precious Blood from Asda for only £1 as part of a special book promotion they were running about a month back. The full price is more like £5, though I'm sure you could also get hold of a copy at your local library if you'd prefer. If I'd paid the full £5 for this, I'd have been perfectly happy - it was THAT good.
Precious Blood is written by Forensic Pathologist Jonathan Hayes, and this is one of those rare finds whereby a professional is both clearly competent and knowledgable in their chosen profession, as well as being a talented writer. In my opinion, this author rates up there with the likes of Thomas Harris, and I hope he continues to write novels of this calibre in the future. This novel of his is from 2008, and he's only written 2 other novels that I have found (in 2008 and 2009). I hope he's planning a fourth novel for 2011!
The story is quite a simple one really, a psycopathic killer is on the loose and choosing his victims in a manner that the detection team can't quite fathom initially. A young girl witnesses the murder of her room mate in a horrific fashion, and as a sub plot, she winds up falling for the older man assigned to protect her. I love how many storylines are woven together to create this novel, and the way in which the storylines all weave together so smoothly is what makes me want to read more from this author. There's a lot going on here, and yet the guy has had no trouble remembering details about his characters and sub plots, and bringing them in and out of the story as it progresses.
The conclusion to the story, the final twist in the tale, becomes obvious towards the end of the book - but I think that's intentional. As us readers become aware of who the killer is, and why they've done what they've done, we can then focus our attentions on whether or not the good guys are going to get to him in time. The way this novel goes, an entirely happy and peaceful ending is pretty unlikely. You'll have to read this for yourself to find out what I mean by that!
What makes this book really stand out is the horrifying level this book stretches too. There were times while reading this book that I physically winced and wondered if I should put the book down for a while - but I couldn't! I had to keep going and find out just how much further the psychotic killer could possibly go. The graphic descriptions in here are honest as well as horrifying, as you might expect from an author who has experienced such crimes first hand. I won't spoil the book by going into too many details here, but I will say that if you can't handle reading about a naked corpse nailed to the wall (as occurs at the beginning of the book), then this is one to avoid.
If, on the other hand, you're keen on crime thrillers in general, and have enjoyed the more twisted works from this genre by authors like Thomas Harris and Kathy Reiches, then this is probably one for you. It's original, very well written, compelling from start to finish and extremely easy to believe and get absorbed in. I look forward to reading more from Jonathan Hayes in the future.