‘Blood Or­ange’ mur­der puts squeeze on Lon­don bar­ris­ter

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Books - By Oline Cogdill Sun Sen­tinel Cor­re­spon­dent Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at [email protected]

Pro­fes­sion­ally, Lon­don bar­ris­ter Al­i­son Wood’s ca­reer is on the rise. She’s proven to be a thought­ful bar­ris­ter, able to han­dle a heavy work­load, put in long hours and get re­sults. And, fi­nally, af­ter 15 years on the job, she has been given her first mur­der trial. It’s a high-pro­file one, too — her client Made­line Smith has been charged with stab­bing her hus­band, Ed­win, while he slept.

Per­son­ally, Al­i­son is a mess. She spends too much time at bars, drink­ing with her col­leagues. She’s in a clan­des­tine re­la­tion­ship that in­cludes rough sex with fel­low bar­ris­ter Pa­trick Saun­ders, who is her in­struct­ing so­lic­i­tor in the mur­der case and has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a phi­lan­derer. No won­der her mar­riage to ther­a­pist Carl Bai­ley is crum­bling, and she of­ten ne­glects their 6-year-old daugh­ter, Matilda.

While at first glance it’s easy to dis­miss Al­i­son, Bri­tish au­thor Har­riet Tyce does an out­stand­ing job in “Blood Or­ange” of il­lus­trat­ing how a char­ac­ter’s seem­ingly un­for­giv­able faults may hide a deeper, more com­plex per­son­al­ity. While Tyce’s de­but hinges on an un­re­li­able nar­ra­tor, “Blood Or­ange” also is the story of a mar­riage, of the point where love can turn to hate and how a per­son must re­gain her own sense of self. Ob­ses­sion is a dan­ger­ous thing.

Fo­cus­ing on her case, Al­i­son tries to con­vince her client not to plead guilty. Slowly, Al­i­son be­gins to see many par­al­lels to her mar­riage and that of

Made­line’s. In pub­lic, both hus­bands on the sur­face seemed to be saints who put up with such dif­fi­cult wives. But in pri­vate, their

per­sonas were quite dif­fer­ent. Al­i­son’s ma­nip­u­la­tion by her hus­band and by her lover must reach a crescendo be­fore she can claim her­self.

Tyce’s affin­ity for an un­con­ven­tional psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller works well in “Blood Or­ange,” as does the in­sight­ful look at the Bri­tish le­gal sys­tem.

Meet the au­thor

Har­riet Tyce will dis­cuss “Blood Or­ange” and the dif­fer­ences be­tween the U.S. and U.K. le­gal sys­tems at 7 p.m. March 7 at Mur­der on the Beach, 273 Pineap­ple Grove Way, Del­ray Beach, 561-279-7790, mur­deron­the­beach.com.

CHAR­LOTTE KNEE PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Bri­tish au­thor Har­riet Tyce’s de­but novel is “Blood Or­ange.” She will dis­cuss it March 7 at Mur­der on the Beach in Del­ray Beach.

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