FICTION//The Tattoo Thief- Alison Belsham*

35478973It’s always weird to read a novel set in your city- and even weirder when the day after you start reading it, a place that’s a crime scene in the novel becomes *an actual crime scene in real life* (this is true.) Welcome to The Tattoo Thief.

DI Francis Sullivan is newly promoted when a murderer with a thing for tattoos starts marauding round Brighton, skinning those who are inked for their body art. Young, religious and not taken seriously by his colleagues or superiors, he must find out who is committing the murders- and why. Assisted by local tattoo artist Marni Mullins (who weirdly lives on the street I lived on as a lodger when I first moved to Brighton), he has a race against time and his own prejudices if he’s to solve the murders.

As a police procedural, it’s fun; there’s a cast of interesting characters and a couple of interesting twists. There were some bits that drove me absolutely bonkers though- the fact that a character is repeatedly referred to as having ‘checked out’ of hospital (I was silently screaming ‘DISCHARGED. YOU MEAN DISCHARGED.’ Blame my ten years of teaching English for my pedantry…) and the apparent willingness of the police to regularly take civilians to quite serious crime scenes was a bit unorthodox.

However, it’s fun and as a debut novel it shows promise. It’s a definite read for those who love their crime a bit macabre and gory- a twisted romp through a city that was once described by Keith Waterhouse as ‘looking like a town helping the police with their enquiries.’

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