Partners in Crime Guest Post: Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway

What a thrill.  Today I have been gifted with the best selling author, Brian McGilloway, on my blog. Brian McGilloway is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Benedict Devlin and DS Lucy Black series. He was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he was Head of English.

His first novel, Borderlands, published by Macmillan New Writing, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2007 and was hailed by The Times as ‘one of (2007’s) most impressive debuts.’ The second novel in the series, Gallows Lane, was shortlisted for both the 2009 Irish Book Awards/Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2010. Bleed A River Deep, the third Devlin novel, was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of their Best Books of 2010.

Brian’s fifth novel, Little Girl Lost, which introduced a new series featuring DS Lucy Black, won the University of Ulster’s McCrea Literary Award in 2011 and was a New York Times Bestseller in the US and a No.1 Bestseller in the UK. The follow-up novel, Hurt, was published in late 2013 by Constable and Robinson and will be published in the USA in May 2014. The third Lucy Black novel will follow later in 2014.

In 2014, Brian won BBC NI’s Tony Doyle Award for his screenplay, Little Emperors, an award which sees him become Writer In Residence with BBC NI.

Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife, daughter and three sons.


SYNOPSIS:  A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. One clue is left behind to uncover his identity—an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local Gay Rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become further complicated with the emergence of a far-right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner, delivering the punch that readers of Little Lost Girl have grown to expect.

Guest Post: I’ve asked Brian to talk about the main character in Bad Blood.

Lucy Black – Lost and Found.

Lucy Black first appeared in Little Girl Lost. The idea for the story was that a child was found wandering in the snow, in her night clothes, marked with blood which was not her own. The child had witnessed a traumatic incident but could not speak about it. In the course of planning the book, I’d spoken with a psychologist who suggested the way to identify the type of trauma that a child had suffered, if they were reluctant to speak about it, was to see which fairy tale they identified most closely with. His argument was that fairy tales are built around basic childhood fears – separation anxiety and the fear of those we think we can trust turning on us – and each tale related to a different form of trauma (e.g. physical, sexual or emotional abuse). My plan, then, was to have a detective sitting with the child at night in the hospital and reading stories to her to pass the time. One of those stories triggers a reaction in the child.

This idea necessitated a female detective and one with no family responsibilities that meant she was able to sit at night in a hospital with someone else’s child. It also required that she be dedicated enough to work beyond her regular hours, that she be empathetic enough that she does not want to see a child left without someone to care for them, and that she would see, perhaps, something of herself in a lost child. These key ideas came to define Lucy in that book. There are actually four lost girls in the book, all in different ways let down by their father figures in particular, and Lucy is no exception. Indeed, her relationship with her father is at the heart of the book. Alongside this, though, runs a second thread, which is her relationship with her estranged mother. For fairytales generally involved absent mothers and failing fathers. And Little Girl Lost was a fairy tale about Lucy, lost in the forest of young adulthood, trying to find some recognisable path to follow.

The ending of the book offers her that path, though at significant cost. But, with the events that close the book, Lucy finds a purpose, a need to protect, at any cost, other lost girls.

The second book then, followed this idea through. Called Hurt in the UK and Someone You Know in the US, the book was about men who targeted young girls with self-esteem issues. I suspected it would be a case close to Lucy’s heart. In this book, she makes the wrong decisions for the right reasons. To my mind, the first stage of any career is learning when to act on an impulse. The second stage is learning when it’s best not to act. Lucy is rash in this book, inclined to impulsivity.

By book 3 (Preserve the Dead in UK/The Forgotten Ones in US) I wanted to move away from stories involving crimes against young people. I have four children of my own and teach full tie – such stories are not ones I want to be carrying around with me for the year or so it takes to plot and develop each book. But Lucy has found her vocation now – a drive to protect the vulnerable in society. In her personal life, her relationship with her boyfriend has reached a tipping point where either she ends it or they move in together. The book is about Lucy deciding how best to move forward. Indeed, from the start of the book she is conflicted about redecorating her father’s house in which she now lives, for in so doing she is moving forward, letting go of the hurts of the past. Her taking a young homeless girl under her wing, like a younger sister, was a way of her dealing with the distance she feels from her own family but the simultaneous desire to have familial support.

Bad Blood then marks a change in Lucy. She is confident in her job now, so much so that she is prepared to stand against colleagues whose behaviour she considers inappropriate. She is also coming to terms with her actual family finally – particularly her mother. In this book I think she is less impulsive, more socially aware than before and, ultimately, happier. And the ending of the book provides her with an opportunity to prove to herself that she is empowered. The lost girl of book one is long gone and Lucy has found her place.

I’m looking forward to finding where she wants to go next…


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0062684558 (ISBN13: 9780062684554)
Series: DS Lucy Black #4
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

The hall was already packed by the time Detective Inspector Tom Fleming arrived. The air was sweet with perfume and talc and, beneath that, from the farmers still wearing their work clothes, the scent of sweat and the smell of the earth.

The congregation were on their feet, being led in the opening hymn by Pastor James Nixon. Fleming smiled apologetically at those he squeezed past to get to a free seat in the third row from the back. The hymn finished, the assembly took their seats just as Fleming reached his, and settled to listen to the words of Pastor Nixon.

‘My brothers and sisters, it is a great honour to be here with you this evening and to see so many of you have taken the time to come and pray with me.’ His voice was strong despite his age, a rich baritone still carrying the inflections of his native Ballymena accent.

‘But it is a time of great challenge for us all. Daily, all good people face an assault on their morality with the rampant homosexual agenda that assails us and belittles everything we hold to be true and dear. Men of conscience are tried for refusing to make a cake celebrating homosexuality or print leaflets and posters furthering that agenda. And on the other side of the border, the Irish Republic has voted to allow homosexuals to marry, as if two women playing house is no different to the consummated union of a man and a woman. As if it is not a perversion which shames us all.

A few voices appended his comment with ‘Amen’.

Nixon raised his hands, acknowledging their support. ‘There are those who would silence me, silence us. They tell us we must accept homosexuals in our town, our shops, allow homosexual bars and public houses to operate on our streets. We must allow sodomites to teach our children and to corrupt our young. We must stay silent while a new Gomorrah is built next to our homes and farms, our shops and schools. They say I am dangerous. They say I preach hatred. They say I should be silent. But I say this: I say that there is no danger in truth. I say that there is no hatred in goodness. And I say that I will not be silent.’

Another chorus of ‘Amens’ greeted his proclamation, accompanied by a smattering of applause which began at the front and rippled its way through the hall.

‘I will not stand idly by as our families are exposed to sin and depravity. I will not countenance the laws of the land being used to protect profane persons, allowing them to indulge their lustful practices, forcing those of us with consciences to humour this lifestyle. It is an abomination. The people who practise it are abominations and, like those before them, they will end in fire and brimstone.’

Fleming glanced around at the others in the congregation. While one or two shifted uncomfortably in their seats, for the most part the listeners sat intently waiting for Nixon to continue.

‘Friends, only last week, I read of an African nation – a heathen nation, a Godless nation – who arrested two men for homosexual acts. One of these men was sixteen. Sixteen! And do you know what they did to the pair of them? They stoned them. They took them out of the town and they threw rocks at them until the pair of them were dead. And do you know what I thought? Shall I tell you?’

An elderly lady in the front row called out ‘Yes’, to the amusement of those around her. Nixon smiled mildly at her, as if indulging her.

‘Stoning was too good for those men. Every rock that struck them was a just reward for their sinfulness, their immorality, their ungodly behaviour. Every drop of their blood that stained the ground was a reminder that they deserved to die. It was the wages of their sin!’


Excerpt from Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway. Copyright © 2017 by Brian McGilloway. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Brian McGilloway

Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he was Head of English. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Lucy Black series, all to be published by Witness. Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.

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