book review, Hunter's Blood

Review: Hunter’s Blood by Val Penny

D.I. Hunter Wilson is at it again in Hunter’s Blood. This is the fourth in Val Penny’s thriller crime series featuring that smart detective, and fans, like myself, hope she keeps it going as he is such a likable and multi-faceted character.

I enjoyed being immersed in the darker culture of Scotland, which Val handles so well. (By the way, she is an American who moved to that country.) Because this is a crime series, that includes an active drug scene, with a dangerous influx of cocaine into Edinburgh. 

As the title implies, an investigation involving the death of three women is personal for Hunter Wilson. One victim is a beloved aunt, the second a critical witness in a recent case, and the third, a woman who helped Hunter when he was at a vulnerable time in his life. As he tells a colleague, “Do you see what I mean, sir? I feel guilty by association.”

Hunter is a little distracted given the death of his aunt, but I had confidence that his strong Scottish work ethic and integrity would help him get the job done. (No spoilers here.) My only complaint about Hunter’s Blood is that I would have welcomed reading more about him in this book.

Another critical element to the book’s plot is Edinburgh’s crime scene, focusing on the people who are bringing addictive drugs into the city. Readers of the series will recognize the players. 

One of the subplots I found intriguing was the crash of a van that occurs early in the book. A woman, who was the driver, is trapped inside the van with a dead body without rescue for a long time, and gives a first-person account. Yes, there is a link to the book’s plot, and the poor woman’s distress is portrayed so well.

By the way, this review is part of the Reading Between the Lines Blog Tour. No compensation is involved.

Hunter’s Blood Blurb

Mutilation and murder outrage DI Hunter Wilson, especially when he knows the victims.

He learns three elderly women have died in mysterious circumstances and is horrified to realise that he is the only person who has met each of them.

Hunter scrutinizes the evidence but must accept help from the Major Investigation Team when he investigates the triple murder.

He is amazed that the breakthrough comes from an unexpected witness.

What did she hear? 

Hunter confronts the perpetrators and fights for the victims’ rights – even when the crime has been committed with the best of intentions.

Here are the links to Val Penny’s books

Hunter’s Chase –

Hunter’s Revenge –

Hunter’s Force –

The First Cut –

Hunter’s Blood –

Character Traits

Meet Hunter Wilson of The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries

D.I. Hunter Wilson is my favorite character in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, which includes the most recent, Hunter’s Blood. So, I made a special request that she feature Hunter in my Character Traits Series. Now, it’s Val’s turn to take over this post.

The first novel I wrote was Hunter’s Chase. The main character is a police detective inspector, Hunter Wilson. Let me tell you about how I developed this character.

I knew I needed a character I could trust and rely on and I wanted a name that reflected his job, fighting crime. One day when my husband and I were going to my mother’s house, we passed a lawyer’s office. The name on the facia was Wilson Hunter. Perfect! However, my husband thought that I better not use that name, in case the lawyer objected, and so Hunter Wilson was born.

I always write biographies for my main characters. This allows me to get to know them well. When I wrote Hunter’s biography I realised that he was ‘a son of the manse’ as they say in Scotland. That means that his father was a protestant Church of Scotland minister (at that time all ministers were male). His mother had had a traditional role as the minister’s wife, making scones for church coffee mornings, tending to the church flowers and running the women’s group (known as the Women’s Guild) in the church.

This gave Hunter his strong Scottish work ethic, his innate sense of fairness, the importance he places on loyalty and his strong sense of right and wrong. It also explains his love of good coffee and freshly baked cakes and scones!

When I thought about it a bit more, I realised Hunter must also be a family man. He rarely sees his daughter, Alison, who lives with her husband and two children in the very North of Scotland on the Shetland Islands. Hunter also has a son, Cameron. Cameron, like many children has given his father cause for concern over the years and these struggles have provided colour and narratives in several of my books.

I realised also that life had not always been easy for Hunter. So he is divorced from the mother of his children. The visible cost of that divorce is that he lives in a two-bedroomed flat in Leith, which is a modest area in Edinburgh. He is not house proud, so his home is often messy and in need of being cleaned and tidied before he has visitors. His most frequent visitor is Dr Meera Sharma, the principal pathologist of his region. He loves Meera deeply but they both have heavy work schedules. That is their challenge.

Physically, I see Hunter as just under six feet tall with steely, intelligent grey eyes and brown hair cut in an unfashionably short style. He is slim and wiry and dresses sensibly for the Scottish weather.

Hunter is loyal and sociable. He likes to be part of a team, both at work and at home. He used to play football in his younger days, but now he referees boys’ matches and plays darts for the team in his local pub, The Persevere Bar in Easter Road where the other members of the team have nicknamed him ‘Clouseau’ after the hapless detective ably portrayed on film by Peter Sellers.

I like Hunter and I enjoy feeling him grow and develop in my novels. I hope he like me, because we’re going to spend a lot of time together going forward.

My most recent novel, Hunter’s Blood is published by SpellBound Books Ltd, on 2nd July 2023.

Hunter’s Blood Blurb

Mutilation and murder outrage DI Hunter Wilson, especially when he knows the victims.

He learns three elderly women have died in mysterious circumstances and is horrified to realise that he is the only person who has met each of them.

Hunter scrutinises the evidence but must accept help from the Major Investigation Team when he investigates the triple murder.

He is amazed that the breakthrough comes from an unexpected witness. 

What did she hear? 

Hunter confronts the perpetrators and fights for the victims’ rights – even when the crime has been committed with the best of intentions.

Excerpt from Hunter’s Blood

“Fucking shit! Did you see that? How fast was it going? It could have taken my nose off!” DI Hunter Wilson roared as a red van raced past them in the outside lane.

“Your nose isn’t that big, darling,” Meera Sharma smiled.

“Huh, thanks. I think. Where are the traffic cops when you need them? And really, how fast was that van going?”

“Some are in a real hurry to meet their maker.”

“I just get so angry. They don’t even think about who else they could take with them if they crash and that was a business vehicle. I’ll bet the owner wouldn’t like their employees to be racing around like that.”

“Probably not,” Meera sighed.

Hunter was driving back from a leisurely lunch at The Steading at Hillend on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with the petite pathologist, Meera Sharma. He always enjoyed their time together. She was easy company, and they got on very well indeed. The Steading was a good place to eat after they had been for a long walk in The Pentland Hills. Maybe this time he would be lucky in love.

Meera changed the subject. “That was delicious, thank you. We should spend more time like this. There is no better exercise than walking you know.”

“Oh, I can think of at least one form of exercise I prefer,” Hunter grinned.

She turned and grinned back at him.

“You’re very cheeky, you know that, don’t you?”

“That’s why you love me,” he glanced away from the road to smile at her.

Meera looked into Hunter’s intense grey eyes and smiled at his traditional short haircut. He would look even better if his hair were just a little longer, but he complained that he looked like the cartoon character ‘Oor Wullie’ when it grew even just a little. She sighed inwardly. Hunter was one of the good guys. Maybe this time her parents would accept her partner of choice.

“Of course, we should make more time to go walking together,” Hunter replied with a sheepish grin. “But you well know how likely that is with our schedules, doctor. In fact, I forgot to tell you, I’ve got to go back to the station this evening. There are a couple of things still I need to finish.”

“Of course there are, Detective Inspector. There always are. But a girl can dream, can’t she?” Meera smiled at him.

Hunter felt warm inside. He might have thought it was the sticky toffee pudding, but Meera’s smile always made him feel like this.

About Val Penny

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. 

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd. 

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat. 

Social Media Links

Buy Links

Hunter’s Chase –

Hunter’s Revenge –

Hunter’s Force –

The First Cut –

Hunter’s Blood –

Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Brian Evans

The next character feature in this series is Brian Evans, created by author Joseph Lewis for his thriller crime novels. Joseph is semi-retired from a long career in education, which admittedly helps him create realistic young characters, including Brian, who he calls “a positive, tragic protagonist.” I have read all of his award-winning books, including the most recent, Fan Mail and enjoyed them. Here, I will let him tell you about his character and his books.

Brian Evans appears initially as a side-character in the last book of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives. He appears as a recurring character in Caught in a Web through my newest book, Fan Mail. He has become a fan favorite and, like many of my characters, is weighed down with baggage, both good and bad. Typically, he is a moral, deep-thinking character, a leader and athlete, and is a great friend to his adopted brothers.

How did you come up with the character and his/her name?

He is a twin and many parents use the same first initial in naming twins. His twin brother, Brad, is deceased (Splintered Lives). I liked the way it sounded, Brian and Brad Kazmarick, but after Brad’s death and Brian’s adoption, he became Brian Evans. I need a positive, tragic protagonist, and Brian fit the bill. He has become a central figure in my last five books, and is central to the action in Fan Mail. I tell the story from his point of view and through his eyes.

Tell us more about [the book].

Fan Mail is not only a story about a patchwork family of adopted brothers and the stress and strain these letters have on the family. It not only is a story about how these letters cause so much stress on the family that the father has a heart attack and how the otherwise close-knit brothers are pulled apart from one another. It is a story of integrity, leadership, of standing up for and defending what is right and just, even in the face of extreme odds and conditions.

Fan Mail is a thriller-crime-mystery with a strong coming-of-age theme running throughout the book. 

Was a real person your inspiration for this character?

Brian is a composite of many of the kids I worked with in my 47 years in education as a teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator. He is like many, and his “story” is drawn from my years as a counselor and coach, but he is no one former or current student of mine.

Is your character likable or not?

Brian is absolutely likeable. He has integrity and is a moral and ethical young man. Southerners use the term “Old Head” to describe someone wise, someone who acts and thinks beyond their years. Brian would certainly fit this description.

Extract from the book in which the character appears.

The passage below takes place in an English classroom discussing the book Lord of the Flies. I chose this book because of the implications it has on the action that takes place in Fan Mail. The two books are similar in that respect.

Brian crumpled up the call slip summoning him to the guidance office. He pushed it to the corner of his desk as far away as possible without tossing it on the floor. His English teacher, Penny Rios, looked at him questioningly, but didn’t question him about it. 

Brian didn’t want to see his father, Jeremy. The ride to school was not only unexpected, but uncomfortable. Normally, Jeremy signed his own slips, not Farner, the assistant principal. That was a twist. Still, he ignored it.

Besides, Rios was one of his favorite teachers, and the discussion they were having on Lord of the Flies was a good one. Even though they were only supposed to read up to the fourth chapter, Brian had read the entire book in three days. 

“Who would you consider a strong, independent character? Perhaps a leader among the boys?” Rios asked.

The answers ranged from Jack to Ralph to Piggy. Brian’s friend, Shannon Pritchert, mentioned Simon, which was an unusual answer.

Puzzled, Rios asked, “Why Simon?”

“I don’t consider him to be a leader, but he was independent. He wasn’t buying into either side. He spent most of the time by himself,” she said.

Brian nodded.

“Brian, you’re pretty silent today. What are your thoughts?”

He said, “It depends upon what you think strong means. Honestly, I don’t think any of them are strong. Being strong means having integrity. Ralph didn’t defend Piggy even when he was being picked on. If he had integrity, he would have defended Piggy no matter who was against him. Jack broke rules he felt weren’t necessary, even though there needed to be order. A person with integrity doesn’t break rules just because he might not like them. Piggy whined and complained, but he tried to establish order. I think because of his size and his whining, no one paid attention to him. A leader has to have followers.” 

He looked over at Shannon, smiled, and said, “I have to think about Simon. I hadn’t thought of him being independent until Shannon mentioned him.”

“What is your definition of integrity?” Rios asked.

Brian didn’t wait to be called upon. He said, “Someone who speaks the truth and lives it even when others don’t. A person who is genuine.”

“That can make someone pretty unpopular, don’t you think?”

Brian nodded and said, “It’s what makes someone strong. Speaking the truth and following the rules, no matter who else does or doesn’t. Being willing to take a stand, even if it’s unpopular. Standing up for your beliefs. If you don’t do those things, you don’t have integrity and you aren’t strong.”

As I stated earlier, Fan Mail and the story of the Evans brothers and family is told through Brian’s eyes. It’s his perspective, his story of his place in the family. Those who have read my other books, knows the journey Brian has been on, the difficulties he has faced, almost to the point of death. He is the defender and the protector of his brothers in many ways, but the hard shell the reader sees on the outside hides the soft vulnerability in Brian’s heart and soul. Yet, this passage summarizes Brian’s core beliefs, and in the end, he almost pays the price for it.

Author’s Bio

Joseph Lewis

Having been in education for forty-seven years as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator, Joseph Lewis has semi-retired and now works part-time as an online learning facilitator. He is an award-winning author and uses his psychology and counseling background to craft thriller/crime/detective mysteries. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC. 

Lewis has published nine books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (May 2021) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (May 2021) Book One of the Lives Trilogy is a BestThrillers 1st Place Award Winner for Crime Fiction, and a Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner; Shattered Lives (May 2021) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (May 2021) Book Three of the Trilogy (May 2021); Caught in a Web (April 2018), which was a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Crime Fiction and named “One of the Best Crime Fiction Thrillers of 2018!” by Best Thrillers; Spiral Into Darkness (January 2019), which was named a Recommended Read by Author’s Favorites; Betrayed November 2020 is a Best Seller on Amazon in Two Categories, a Top Shelf Award 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; Top Shelf Award Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; PenCraft Award 1st Place Winner, Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery-Suspense, a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner, and a Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Rating Winner; Blaze In, Blaze Out (January 2022) was named Thriller-Action Book of the Year for 2022 by BestThrillers, Literary Titan Gold Book Award, A Reader’s Favorite Award Winner, an Author’s Shout Award Winner, and was an Editor’s Pick by . Lewis’ newest thriller-crime-mystery, Fan Mail, is a Maxy Award Finalist and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner. Fan Mail is a coming-of-age story wrapped in a thriller fans are sure to enjoy.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah, and Emily. He and his wife now live in Virginia.

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audio, reviews

Listening to Hunter’s Chase on Audible

I had a long drive ahead to visit family, a solo road trip I wasn’t looking forward to, but then I remembered that I had downloaded the audiobook of Val Penny’s Hunter’s Chase on Audible. So, I hit play on my iPhone, and away the book’s narrator and I were traveling on the road together.

In what I recognized as an authentic Scottish accent by the narrator, I listened as DI Hunter Wilson had some serious problems to deal with in Edinburgh, Scotland like drugs flooding into the city and three related deaths. Then, there were the responsibilities of running a department.

This was not the first time I became immersed in Hunter’s Chase. I read the book when it first came out and I continued with the other four in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Series. I love a UK mystery whether it’s on a page, a screen or my phone. My preference are strong characters, like the very classy DI Hunter Wilson, and a plot that keeps me guessing. Val does that well.

Knowing how Hunter’s Chase ends didn’t lessen my enjoyment listening to it. Although a few of the Scottish pronunciations escaped me — I am American after all — I was thoroughly involved in the narration.

Thanks Val Penny for making that long trip there and back an enjoyable one.

(By the way, I am writing this post as part of the Hunter’s Chase Audible Blog Tour organized by Reading Between the Lines Book Vlog.)



Author Val Penny

Val Penny’s crime novels — Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force, Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret — form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke books. Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.








Character Traits, characters

Character Traits: Meet Marlene Martínez

Teresa Dovalpage and I have a bit of history. When I lived in Taos, NM, I took her Spanish I class at the university branch where she was a professor. Originally from Cuba, she was a lively prof, and shortly after that she started doing freelance writing in Spanish and English for The Taos News, where I was the editor-in-chief. We became good friends, and I will admit Teresa, who had already written many books, inspired me to stray from writing literary fiction to mysteries. Since then, she has left Taos to work as a professor in the southern part of New Mexico, and I moved east to Western Mass. But we still keep in touch and, yeah, I have read and enjoyed all of her books, including her most recent Death Comes in through the Kitchen. Here. I will let her take over and tell you about her character, Marlene Martínez.

Thank you, Joan, for inviting me to your virtual home!

Teresa in the cruise that inspired the book

Teresa Dovalpage on the cruise that inspired her novel.

I would like to introduce your readers to Marlene Martínez, a character that appeared for the first time in my culinary mystery Death Comes in through the Kitchen (Soho Crime, 2018). The story takes place in 2003, when Marlene is still a young lieutenant in Cuba’s police force:

“She was around twenty-five years old and very tall, with short brown hair and stern gray eyes. Despite her youth, she looked imposing and severe.”

While writing that book, I encountered a problem: I didn’t have the slightest idea of how the Cuban law enforcement operates. So I did what I had learned while working for Joan at The Taos News. I found a source and got all the details. I interviewed a former Cuban cop now settled in Miami who provided me with the information needed to build both character and setting: the way police stations are organized, the fact that they are called “unidades”—that’s why I kept the term in Spanish; using “units” didn’t sound right in English—, and the scanty resources they have at their disposal.

Marlene, however, had mostly a supporting role in this book. The real star was Padrino, a detective turned Santeria practitioner and Marlene’s former mentor, who in the end solves the case.

A similar situation happened in my second mystery, Queen of Bones (Soho Crime, 2019).

But by the third book in the series, Marlene was tired of playing second fiddle. And she let it be known. She is quite opinionated, let me tell you! She wanted, and needed, her very own book. And it so happened that the character followed, with some variations, my source’s real-life journey. Marlene’s next appearance was in the novella Death of a Telenovela Star (Soho Crime, 2020). By then, in 2018, she is living in Miami and owns a bakery called La Bakería Cubana.

Death of a Telenovela Star is based on a Caribbean cruise that my husband and I took three years ago, where I witnessed some mischief that provided the initial chispa, that spark that books need to be born into the world. The story is set on a week-long cruise to Mexico and the Caribbean that Marlene has booked as a quinceañera present for her niece Sarita.

“Aboard the North Star were five thousand travelers and one open bar. What could be expected from such a crowd but shenanigans? That’s what Marlene Martínez thought as she looked around her with suspicion. With so many passengers crammed onto the one-thousand-foot boat, something bad was bound to happen.

Her grandfather, bless his soul, used to say, “Somewhere, something bad is happening to somebody right now.” Years ago, Marlene had laughed at his unabashed pessimism, but now, watching from her lounge chair the noisy throng waiting by the pool for their cabins to be ready, she couldn’t avoid a sense of dread.”

When Sarita discovers that a Cuban telenovela star, Carloalberto, is also aboard, and starts obsessing about him, Marlene realizes there’s going to be trouble.

And it will be up to her to keep it at bay.

I hope you enjoy the book!

Muchas gracias.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana and now lives in Hobbs, where she is a Spanish and ESL professor at New Mexico Junior College. She has a PhD in Hispanic Literature by the University of New Mexico and has published eleven novels and three collections of short stories. Once in a while she delves into theater. Her plays La Hija de La Llorona and Hasta que el mortgage nos separe (published in Teatro Latino, 2019) have been staged by Aguijón Theater in Chicago.

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