Review: A Matter Of Blood

Posted: April 20, 2011 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Sarah Pinborough, Horror

What was the last book you read that completely blew you away? It shouldn’t be too hard to remember, especially given the astounding levels of mediocrity present in most genres. Being book reviewers–and this may shock you–we read a TON of books. Horror novels fall apart in the end. Thrillers can almost always be predicted. Dan Brown is, well, Dan Brown. Fantasy gets bogged down in the cliché. SF makes you feel like you need an advanced physics degree. Every genre has its downfalls. We read so much that for a novel to really stand out, it has to be special.

Have we piqued your curiosity yet?

A MATTER OF BLOOD by Sarah Pinborough (Amazon) is special. A lot of horror and mystery with some paranormal and SF thrown in–it pushes all our buttons in all the right ways. The novel takes place in a near-future London… only this London isn’t the vacationers dream as we know it. Corruption on all levels has very nearly brought the city to its knees, and it is in the midst of a mini-apocalypse of sorts…only no one seems to notice or really care. Our main PoV is Detective Inspector Cass Jones. He is investigating a high-profile, public shooting of two boys when he is assigned an additional case dealing with a serial killer. Things are “calm” at this point in the novel, and soon go completely off-the-scale crazy.

The very first thing that jumps out in A MATTER OF BLOOD is Cass Jones. He has serious issues. Guilt. Attitude. Drug addiction. Family problems. He doesn’t try to be witty. His life sucks too much to even attempt it. But he is also extremely good at his job. His skill helps the reader initially overcome the “dirt-bag” vibe he exudes early in the novel. Don’t worry, by the end of the novel you’ll love Cass in spite of his problems… or perhaps because of them. We wouldn’t even really call Cass an antihero. Though that is all the rage, Cass Jones never wears that particular hat. The attraction to this particular Inspector is that he comes across as a seriously flawed, yet hard working guy. That “human” aspect is the key.

Pinborough’s description in this novel is awesome. From describing the dingy streets of London, to the macabre crime-scenes, to the way the whole police business now works is all top-notch. Hazy flashbacks come at the perfect time. It all sets the ambiance and the mood just right. There is a palpable Raymond Chandler, noir/hardboiled feel to it all. That alone should be enough to get you salivating.

The pacing in A MATTER OF BLOOD is fantastic. Right when you start to worry that things are slowing down too much, Pinborough twists the story a little more through whatever means she feels necessary. She doesn’t ever seem to be afraid to genre-mix, and she never pulls punches. Ever.

Perhaps the best descriptor we can give is that A MATTER OF BLOOD is everything we hoped R. Scott Bakker’s thrillers would be. Where his thrillers have ultimately fallen completely flat in our opinion, Pinborough’s novel succeeds and excels in every way.

Sarah Pinborough's A MATTER OF BLOOD is horrific and gripping. It immediately vaults into our top novels not just for Horror but for any.

Now like we said, the endings of 90% of all Horror novels unravel and completely ruin the rest of the novel. Not so in this case. The ending to A MATTER OF BLOOD made it better. It was completely perfect, awesome and shocking. When everything starts coming together, and the Cass puts the pieces together, it is SOOOOOO GOOD. We couldn’t turn the pages quick enough. While a bit of it was kinda predictable, it was the sinister and horrific tiny twists that made it frakking awesome.

Sarah Pinborough’s A MATTER OF BLOOD is horrific and gripping. It immediately vaults into our top novels not just in the Horror genre, but in any genre. It perfectly encapsulates all the great qualities of Crime Fiction, Horror and Urban Fantasy with a little SF thrown in for kicks. EVERYONE should read this novel.

Currently A MATTER OF BLOOD is only available in the UK, though Sarah hinted at a US release through Tor later this year. We don’t care if you import it now or wait for the US release. We’ve already bought the UK edition, and we’ll buy copies of the US version too. Yeah, for us it was THAT GOOD. Her second novel has just been released in the UK, and we will probably put our lives completely on hold to read it.

  • Recommended Age: 18+
  • Language: Gritty Crime/Horror. Tons of swearing, but it never actually feels overused somehow.
  • Violence: Our good buddy James Barclay (we owe you one, James) pointed us in Sarah's direction with the promise of awesomely described violence. He's never led us astray before, and he didn't this time. Crazy, crazy stuff.
  • Sex: Talked about very, very openly and often, but never actually shown in explicit detail


  • Dylan says:

    Sounds good. Does the “dog-faced gods” bit mean this is part of a series?

    • Sure does – the second novel in the series, The Shadow of the Soul, just came out a bit ago in the UK. And yes, I have a copy and am slacking at work so I can read it.

      I'm still unsure when they will be released in the US–gotta email Tor and see…

  • membrillu says:

    I'm absolutely sold. It will be muy next ebook buy!

  • Mike says:

    Just ordered it myself. Fortunately, I live in Canada, so we can get a hold of UK publications easily. This is my first book that I bought based on a reviewer saying “A must buy..”

    You had better be right, or else….;)

  • @membrillu & Mike: Hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. I'm a sucker for Horror/Crime hybrids, and this did everything I hoped for.

  • Gina says:

    I want to order this from Book Depository, but there are two versions available. “A Matter of Blood: The Dog-Faced Gods” and “A Matter of Blood: The Man of Flies is Among Us.” I'm assuming Dog-Faced Gods is the correct version, but I wanted to make sure before I made the order. Do you know what the other version could even be?

    • They are all the same, just different publications. Don't worry about the subtitle.

      ISBN 13: 9780575089457 is a hardback. The issue I have with UK hardbacks is that they aren't bound very well–just a thin layer of glue.

      ISBN 13: 9780575089464 is a trade (oversized) paperback. The UK typically builds these very sturdy. Would have been my preferred choice when i was vacationing over there if I could have found it.

      ISBN 13: 9780575089471 is like an oversized mass market. Slightly smaller than the trade sized, but much larger than the US Mass Market releases. This is the version I have. I plan on getting hardback US editions (assuming they are released that way) next year when Tor puts them out. Until then, I will stick with this paperback version.

      That help?

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