Maggie Gee's Blood could be called an unorthodox thriller, a black comedy or representative of any number of other genres. For many American readers, it will be an introduction to the acclaimed author of 15 books published in the U.K. The genre may be difficult to place, but it's easy to see Gee's strengths, particularly in her characters. The novel is told primarily from the perspective of Monica Ludd, a gigantic, buxom woman from a family haunted by the abuse and cruelty meted out by their physically imposing father on his wife and children. When the father is attacked, Monica becomes the chief suspect.

Blood's plot is not particularly twisty--despite the novel's short length, there are passages where Monica meditates on her twisted childhood and a country thrown into turmoil by Brexit and terrorist attacks. What carries the book is Monica's perspective: equal parts rude, funny, fearful, literate and randy. Monica is an unusual but effective vehicle for a conversation about the legacy of abuse and violence. The contradictory aspects of her character echo the difficulty of the topic. At one point, Monica reminds the reader that her father always "adored" her mother in the midst of relating the ways he tormented her: "Yes, I know, it's complicated; life's complicated, get over it." 

Instead of twists and turns, Gee immerses the reader in dread. Her father's fate uncertain, Monica fears that he will return and continue his reign of terror. Blood asks whether a monster can be stopped without further monstrous violence. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

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