Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Impure Blood by Peter Morfoot
Reviewed by Clay Snellgrove
An intriguing opening and an unexpected ending are essential ingredients in great crime fiction. Peter Morfoot writes both into his new novel Impure Blood (Titan Books). A man joins a call to prayer at an over-crowded mosque in Nice, France, and mysteriously dies while kneeling on his piece of cardboard amidst a sea of Muslim congregants. When Captain Paul Darac of Nice Brigade Criminelle takes control of the investigation, he and his team find plenty of suspects.
Their task of finding the killer becomes complicated when a fellow officer is kidnapped and a terrorist threat is made against the Nice leg of the Tour de France. The three crimes begin to intertwine, putting Captain Darac and his fellow investigators into a race against the clock. They struggle to piece the puzzle together in time to save their colleague’s life and assure the country’s biggest sporting event goes off without disruption.
Impure Blood comes in at 544 pages, much longer than most commercial thrillers. But if readers navigate the bevy of minor characters and red herrings throughout, they are rewarded with a dynamite ending. Morfoot hits on a number of compelling themes, including Nice’s pushback against a rapidly growing and frustrated Muslim community. This subject matter strikes a deeper chord with the recent terror in Paris (this novel most likely written before the attacks). Morfoot allows readers to peek behind the current of French law enforcement at their ideals and beliefs—fascinating tidbits for American readers.
Captain Paul Darac appears to have staying power, as he is set to star in two future novels as well. He has what all great literary detectives bring to the squad room: a periodic dislike of following procedure, a rocky romance with a beautiful woman, a bizarre hobby (jazz guitar), and a moral compass that puts lives of others ahead of his own. Darac is smart but combustible, which provides tension throughout the book.
Morfoot has spent his career telling stories, and he makes a smooth transition to the thriller genre, crafting an electric ending that has readers sprinting through the final chapters. If a plane ticket to France isn’t in the budget, Impure Blood can transport readers there for a fraction of the cost. Morfoot turns up the heat and delivers a solid summer read.
Clay Snellgrove is the author of The Ball Player. He’s a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. A former professional baseball player, Clay holds an MFA in creative writing from Converse College.
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