Blog Tour: Blood Games, Liz Mistry

Book Review: Blood Games, DS Nikita Parekh Book 4, Liz Mistry


Blood Games, Liz Mistry

Mystery: Blood Games, DS Nikita Parekh Book 4, Liz Mistry

Blog Tour January 26, 2022


This is not something I hide. Nor do I talk much about it. I have experienced many bouts of mental illness. I have learned not to be ashamed of it. Usually.


I have been hospitalized once and should have been on several other occasions. Anxiety, depression, ADD–if I were better looking I could be a poster child. I have my own collection of prescriptions that greets me twice a day. Miss one for a couple of days and I am a train wreck for a week or two. If you weren’t already persuaded that my remarkable wife can handle anything, the fact that she has put up with me for 35 years should convince you that she is simply an extraordinary person.


DS Nikita Parekh has also experienced mental illness, and in Blood Games it is very much at the center of the story. A series of vicious attacks has left two people dead from machete wounds and a young woman traumatized and hiding in her home after vinegar was thrown in her face by an unknown assailant (she initially believed it to be acid). When a third victim is found, Nikki and her partner DC Sajid Malik go to the crime scene as usual.


But Nikki is not her usual self. Her mother was recently murdered by her estranged father. Her father is still at large, sending her postcards from abroad that warn her he is coming to kill her and/or her sister. Drowning in grief and rage, Nikki has escalated the patterns of self-harm that give her relief – cutting herself, snapping her wrist with a rubber band. She is barely holding herself together, withdrawing from her family, disengaged from her colleagues, trapped in a world by walls built within her own mind.


Seeing this latest victim breaks the scaffolding holding Nikki’s mind together. A teenage boy with brown skin and black hair who looks superficially like her nephew. Suddenly, Nikki’s mind snaps and she kneels down and picks up the body and keens her grief. The victim is not her nephew, Nikki has irreparably compromised the crime scene, numerous colleagues have witnessed her breakdown, and Nikki is compelled to take medical leave until a psychiatrist deems her ready to return to work.


The rest of the book follows Nikki’s progress through her own mental anguish, Sajid’s efforts to solve the case without his partner and mentor’s support (and with personnel issues in the department both related and unrelated to Nikki’s absence), and the ongoing developments in Bradford as machete attacks continue to terrorize the city.


I shared some of my personal story here because author Liz Mistry has created a protagonist that is as authentic and real as I have ever seen–and I share enough experience with the character’s mental health struggles to have an insider’s view. Nikki Parekh is very different than I. Differences are obvious: British, woman, mother, mixed-race, detective. But the internal pain this character carries is all too familiar. Disconnecting and withdrawing, self-harm, suicidal ideation, numbness occasionally and unexpectedly shattered and devolving into uncontrolled emotional outbursts. The long struggle back to “normal,” or at least functional. The family and friends walking on eggshells, both caring and afraid of this person you’ve become. The constant awareness that the pit you’ve come out of is still there and eager to suck you back in. I’ll never be a detective, I’ll never be a woman of color, and though I’d love to visit I may never make it to England. But I’ve walked through the same shadows, I’ve faced the same demons, I’ve longed to end it all but been saved only because I lacked the energy to pursue it.


DS Nikita Parekh is a very good detective. More importantly, she is a survivor. Any detective is likely to confront external enemies. Any person, though, might face a greater enemy within her own mind. The inside view of her struggle against that monster is vivid and compelling. And it’s part of a terrific series that I like better and better as it continues.


Blood Games Author
Liz Mistry, Author

Blood Games Full Tour

Our thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for our copy of Blood Games, given in exchange for our review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this book, check out the other bloggers participating in this tour.


Also see:

Book Review: Broken Silence, Liz Mistry

Book Review: Dark Memories, A D. S. Nikki Parekh Novel Book 3, Liz Mistry


Blood Games, Liz Mistry

Book Review: Blood Games, DS Nikita Parekh Book 4, Liz Mistry

One thought on “Blog Tour: Blood Games, Liz Mistry

  1. First of all, thanks so much for sharing your persoanl mental health story at the beginning of this post. I’m so glad you felt able to and send you huge hugs
    Secondly, your review almost reduced me to tears. I was wary of bringing mental ill health (or Nikki’s versionof it) into the book, but I feel that Nikki as a person makes her the detective she is. Thanks for understanding this and for writing such an incightful review.

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