Sharp Scratch by Martine Bailey – Book Review

Sharp Scratch by Martine Bailey – Book Review

sharp scratch by Martine Bailey

Sharp Scratch

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Five candidates. One job. A killer prepared to murder their way to the top.

Salford, 1983. Lorraine Quick is a single mother, a member of a band going nowhere fast, and personnel officer at the grim Memorial Hospital.

A new general manager position is being introduced, and Lorraine’s recent training in the cutting-edge science of psychometric testing will be pivotal. As the profiles start to emerge, a chilling light is cast on the candidates.

When a lethal dose of anaesthetic is deliberately substituted for a flu vaccine, and a second suspicious death quickly follows, it’s clear a killer is at work in the hospital. Can Lorraine’s personality tests lead her to the murderer?

Review by Stacey

Sharp Scratch is the first book in a promising new thriller series from author Martine Bailey. Set in the 1980s and the northern town of Salford, the first book in the series follows single mother Lorraine Quick, a personnel officer, whose job it is to use new advanced scientific psychometric testing to work out the best candidate for an upcoming hospital manager role.

However, her skills in this testing area are required by Detective Sergeant Diaz when a member of staff is murdered by a lethal dose of anaesthetic instead of the flu vaccine. DS Diaz wants Lorraine to help her catch the killer using Lorraine’s training in psychometric testing.

The plotline was intriguing and I loved that at the start of each chapter, the author has written a psychometric question for you to ask yourself (though this isn’t in any way scientific, just a bit of fun). The chapters are short and snappy keeping the pace quick and making the book feel quite edgy and tension-filled.

Being from Manchester, a city besides Salford, and having lived through the 1980s the book provided a nostalgic trip down memory lane for me. I was a big fan of the character of Lorraine who as a single mother wanted so much better for her life and her child’s and yet stuck her neck out to help with the investigation. The other characters in the book I had less feelings about and some I completely disliked.

Sharp Scratch is an entertaining murder mystery crime thriller. It felt dark and gritty and I raced through it in just a couple of days. If you like chilling reads then grab yourself a copy of this book.

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Martine Bailey

Martine Bailey

Martine Bailey is a writer of crime and mystery novels born in Manchester. After writing four acclaimed historical novels she has created a chilling new crime series beginning with Sharp Scratch set in 1980s Salford.

After studying English Literature while playing in bands on the Manchester music scene she worked as a hospital personnel officer and qualified in psychometric testing. Over her career she assessed staff for Ashworth top security psychiatric hospital and completed an MSc on the ‘Psychic Prisons’ that can trap health workers in negative behaviours.

Martine’s debut, An Appetite for Violets, takes sharp-witted cook Biddy Leigh on a murderous trip to Italy. Fay Weldon described its mix of crime, gastronomy and history, as a new genre, the ‘culinary gothic’. It was a Booklist top ten crime fiction debut of the year. The Penny Heart (A Taste for Nightshade in the US) is a Sunday Times Best Summer Read that draws on cooking, trickery and revenge.

The stars, riddles and murder align in The Almanack, a historical mystery featuring fifty authentic riddles. In its sequel, The Prophet, destiny and murder weave an intricate web around Tabitha’s new life.

Martine’s novels explore the psychological pressures of crime with an interest in social class and northern culture in Britain. Her influences are Ruth Rendell, Sarah Waters and the gothic tradition. She is married with one son and lives in Chester, UK.

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