St Pauls, Bristol. 1980. Joseph Tremaine 'JT' Ellington, fast approaching retirement, has long abandoned his career as a private investigator. One of the few lights in his life has flickered out. His fiancée is dead – leaving him to raise his 15-year-old niece, Chloe, alone.
JT's days are bleak; his nights tormented by ghosts. But, still, the dangers and temptations of old call to him . . .
Then, when the unscrupulous wife of a local preacher mysteriously vanishes, JT is convinced to take on the search for the missing woman. But at what cost?
Reluctant and wary, JT is determined to keep his distance from the seedy, deadbeat world of the Bristol night. But death is all around. When he appeals to his cousin Vic for help, JT's fight for survival against the dark forces of Obeah, treachery and trauma only intensifies...
A Traitor to His Blood is the fifth and final book in author, M.P. Wright's JT Ellington series and it's a cracking end to a series that I've come to late. The fourth, A Sinner's Prayer was enjoyed a couple of years ago. The first three have still to be devoured.
JT Ellington is living a quiet life and against his better nature reluctantly agrees to look into the disappearance of a local preacher's wife. Hindsight is an exact science, but it would probably have been better for him if he had just said no.
Bristol, 80s, community, church, marital discontent, wanderlust, abandonment, pubs and dive bars, brothels and whores, racial unrest, blinkered over-zealous policing, intimidation, organised crime, low lifes, murder, secrets, ghosts from the past, death - violent and bloody, family, history and eventually answers and a sense of peace and finality for some in JT's orbit, if not his client.
It's a busy, vibrant book - full of horror and violence, which once again begs the question whether nature or nurture leads people to act in a certain way. Would a different upbringing and environment have led to different outcomes? Conversely with JT and his niece and his wholly unsentimental and in somes ways sadistic cousin there's a capacity for love, support and care which endures from cradle to grave.
I loved the Bristol setting. There's a sense of a racial divide between white and black Bristol, with separate communities and in JT's part of the world a lingering mistrust of authority and in particular the police. It's quite topical insofar as you wonder how far we have come in the past forty years and how much further we have to go, before race isn't even a conversation. Most of the events in the book are enacted within the confines of the black community, though there is a sense of intrusion from the white powers.
A Traitor to His Blood is a powerful and totally satisfying read. Recommended to all fans of crime fiction at home and abroad.
4.5 from 5
Read - September, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 336
Source - review copy courtesy of author and publisher - Black and White Publishing
Format - paperback