Source: Own copy
A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…
When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?
Alison Belsham has created a belter of a crime thriller in her debut novel The Tattoo Thief. I can see why her pitch was the winner of the Bloody Scotland pitch perfect event a couple of years ago. Personally, I have never been interested in getting a tattoo, and after reading Alison’s novel, I think I definitely won’t be getting one. This is a chilling, serial killer thriller!
The Tattoo Thief is very dark. The novel is set in Brighton, and it delves into the heart of the tattooing industry which for me gave the book a very unique feel. I don’t know anything at all about tattooing, but Alison had me captivated, and I could see the fascination that she has for this subject which was very well researched. It’ll be interesting to see how she will take this series further.
Alison’s protagonist, Marni Mullins was a brilliant lead to follow. From the moment she discovers the mutilated corpse of a man, not far from the tattooing convention she is attending, I wanted to follow her journey and see just how involved she was going to get in this case. I wanted to know who was behind the brutal and horrifying attacks that were taking place and what reasons they had for doing this. Alison keeps us in the dark about Marni’s past but reveals more as the novel progresses. We know that she doesn’t like dealing with the police, but we don’t know why, and there was a strong sense of foreboding that Marni was going to become much more involved in this mystery than she would like to.
The detective working on the case is Detective Inspector Frank Sullivan. Frank has recently been promoted, so he is faced with the added pressure of having to get results as quickly as possible. His boss makes it very plain that Frank has to solve this case soon or risk throwing the rest of his career away, his boss isn’t the most pleasant of characters, and I didn’t like his handling of the case. I really liked Frank, he is a character that I very easily warmed to; I think this was probably due to the fact that he goes through quite a rough time with this investigation. The team he works with doesn’t appear to be strong and supportive. But he is determined to see the case through, even if it means risking his career.
The killer in this book is terrifying. Some of the scenes are told from the killer’s perspective, and I found it genuinely scary as Alison gets inside their head. You strongly get the sense that this is a messed up individual who will fight to the end to get what they want. There was a twist towards the end that took me by surprise, and it was a jaw-dropping moment of realisation. There was so much tension in those final scenes; I couldn’t see how it was going to play out.
I think all I can say now – if you love your crime fiction – is that you definitely need to go and grab yourself a copy, especially if you like your fiction dark and gory. The Tattoo Thief is clever and very well written, and it has a very strong hook that will keep you intrigued.
Thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to join the blog tour.
Publication date: 20th September 2018
Print length: 384 pages
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