Every now and then, I come across a piece of mystery or crime fiction I find so gripping that I need to pay attention on my train trips to and from work so as not to forget getting off at the right stop. "Blood Guilt" by Ben Cheetham was one such book.
The setting is Sheffield, a city I know well enough to set the inner camera in motion while reading about it. The plot is quickly told: A young boy dies in an accident. His parents' marriage does not survive the traumatic event. The father's work as a Detective Inspector at first suffers, too - then he accidentally kills another man, and the life he knew until then is well and truly over. After four years in prison, Harlan Miller is released only to learn that the son of the man he killed has been abducted.
Trying to find the boy and bring him back to his mother becomes the only reason to live for Harlan.
The reader is taken along on the fast-paced search for young Ethan, which is at the same time Harlan's search for atonement. Of course, there are some dead ends and red herrings, and more than once, it seems impossible that Harlan should ever live long enough to succeed.
The characters appear credible, although I have no way of telling how realistic some of their thoughts and actions are, since I have never been in a situation even remotely similar - and hope I never will be!
The book is not just a modern whodunnit and how and when good will win over evil. It shows what many of us would rather not think about: The capacity for crossing the border between right and wrong, light and dark, and what that can do to a person.
"Blood Guilt" was first self-published by the author in 2011. Ben Cheetham has his own website here, but he is also right here on blogger. I think I want to read "Angel of Death", too - my edition of "Blood Guilt" contained the first chapter of that, and it promises to be just as gripping.