Book review: Blood Whispers by John Gordon Sinclair

Blood Whispers by John Gordon Sinclair
Blood Whispers by John Gordon Sinclair

Thirty years as a screen and stage actor has given John Gordon Sinclair a keen eye for visual drama… and now he’s turning that skill into high-impact thriller writing.

Blood Whispers, 351 pages of mesmerising menace, is the follow-up to last year’s superb debut Seventy Times Seven and for those yet to discover this new kid on the block, rest assured that the star of the acclaimed 1981 football-themed film Gregory’s Girl has set in motion an unstoppable game.

And Sinclair certainly hits the ground running in this white-knuckle ride into the dark underbelly of Glasgow where ruthless Serbian gangsters are hunting down a prostitute who could tear apart their terrifying world of drug dealing, human trafficking and contract killing.

Fast-paced action, riveting characters and a plot driven by breathtaking violence, more twists and turns than Hampton Court maze and a spine-tingling sense of danger make Blood Whispers a leading contender for 2014’s best thriller.

Twenty-year-old Albanian Kaltrina Dervishi thought Britain was the promised land but two years later she’s in Glasgow, working as a prostitute for Serbian gang leader Fisnik Abazi, and her life is ‘skimming its knees along the bottom of existence.’

Her tough, street-wise and cynical shell hides a secretly vulnerable woman who cries herself to sleep at night and yearns to be free from the degradations of the sex and drugs trade, but the alternative is her boss’s chilling line: ‘You can leave any time you like: the grave’s already dug.’

But now Kaltrina is fighting back in spectacular and violent fashion. She’s on the run and heading for Spain until the Glasgow police arrest her and decide her evidence could be the key to getting Abazi off the streets.

Abazi wants her dead, the police don’t seem to care about her safety and only Kaltrina’s lawyer Keira Lynch – a promising up-and-comer with a reputation as a scrapper and troublemaker – can prevent that from happening.

Meanwhile, Abazi has hired the terrifying Albanian contract killer Engjell E Zeze, the Watcher, a man made wealthy from the business of death and reputed to be ‘a fallen angel whose only purpose on earth was to destroy life.’

Keira is determined to keep Kaltrina out of the firing line but there are other sinister forces at work, not least the CIA who would like to see Kaltrina dead and think it would be no bad thing if Keira got caught in the crossfire.

What nobody in this deadly game of cat-and-mouse has yet realised is that Keira is no ordinary Glasgow lawyer… she has demons in her past which she is about to confront and she is at her most dangerous and deadly when she’s threatened.

Blood Whispers is Sinclair’s coming-of-age thriller, a rapid fire story that secures him a safe berth in the pantheon of exciting, hard-hitting Tartan Noir authors.

The ability to capture a man or a mood in a matter of a few lines, an actor’s gift for dialogue, and compulsive action and intrigue are guaranteed to keep the temperature high and the pages turning.

Expect something unmissable, exhilarating and extraordinary…

(Faber, paperback, £12.99)