Kate Rhodes’ Alice Quentin series is one of Auntie M’s favorites, well-crafted books with realistic characters. She gobbles them up and then has to wait for the next exciting installment. Blood Symmetry follows her pattern of constructing a complex plot, mixed with compelling characters, thrown into a multi-layered tale that will have readers flipping pages long after the light should be turned out–and then impatiently waiting for the next one.

Alice is a plucky forensic psychologist you must adore if you’ve read any of the others, and now that her relationship with DCI Burns has solidified to a more personal connection, you’ll like her even more as she navigates the kind of union she never expected she’d be having on more than a superficial level. Readers will be privy to more of Burns, too, a nice addition as he tries to understand Alice, even as he knows she’s the one person who can help him on his current case. Her brief will be to when profiling what is determined to be a pair of criminals, and help unlock the memories of its prime witness.

Hematologist Clare Riordan and her son Mikey are out for a run on Clapham Common when they are abducted by a couple. Mikey manages to escape, but is so traumatized he’s mostly mute and barely readable. While Alice tries to profile the abductors, she also spends time at Mikey’s safe house to uncover his memories.

Alice’s perceptiveness to Mikey and the clues he give us allow us to feel for this child, who hopes desperately to be reunited with his mother even as he fears she’s dead. As bags of Claire’s blood turn up at different sites, it soon becomes apparent her demise may not be that far off. Besides being drained slowly of her blood, hers is being tainted with drugs that will kill her.

Rhodes’ meticulous research stands her in good stead, and her author’s note at the end of the book explains her personal connection to tell this story. Interspersed with Alice and Burns’ chapters are shorter ones of those of the abductors, bizarre and filled with urgency, adding to the tension. Will Claire be found before she’s killed? What is the significance of the sites where her blood is being left? And then a second hematologist is found dead, and all bets are off as Alice and Burns step up their pace to find who is behind this–and why.

Another sparkling entry in the Alice Quentin series. And yes, Auntie M is already pining for the next. Highly recommended.