Detective Inspector Carver lies near death—shot in the chest. A woman stands over him—she has a gun in her hand. Carver has been investigating the Thorn Killer murders for almost a year—a killer who tattoos his victims over a period of days or weeks, using an ancient and excruciatingly painful method called “thorn tapping”.
As he tattoos the victims, he slowly poisons them with drug-laced ink. Did Carver get too close to the killer? Who is the woman, and what is her relationship to Carver? After all, there must be some kind of relationship—you don’t feel such a complicated mix of emotions for someone you don’t know.
These are the questions I asked myself when I visualized the scene and jotted down the first few words of Splinter in the Blood, way back in 2014. I was even more mystified when the woman began systematically to destroy and then recreate evidence at the scene.
So where did the idea come from? The closest I have to an answer to that question is a visit I made to the ‘Skin’ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London during the autumn of 2010. I’d been chairing a meeting of the Crime Writers Association that day and had a couple of hours before my train home. Given the choice between coffee and cake, and a disturbing exhibition on human skin, there was really no contest!
Of course, tattoos have symbolic, shamanistic, and even medicinal significance for cultures worldwide throughout history, yet I have always found the idea of skin markings deeply unsettling. The “Skin” exhibition told the story of ritual skin marking in pictures, etchings, and even on samples of human skin. I found the collection both repulsive and compelling at once—so of course it would eventually find its way into a story—although it took eight years for this one to make it onto the page. I hope you’ll take the time to check out Splinter in the Blood, and perhaps buy a copy. It’s on offer at just 99p on AmazonUK until 22nd April.
‘One of the boldest, most inventive serial-killer thrillers since The Silence of the Lambs. ~AJ Finn, Best-selling author of The Woman in the Window
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