Just after lunch on Tuesday in April, nine feet underwater, police diver Flea Marley closes her gloved fingers around a human hand.
The fact that there’s no body attached is disturbing enough. Yet more disturbing is the discovery, a day later, of the matching hand. Both have been recently amputated, and the indications are that the victim was still alive when they were removed.
Newly Seconded to the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol, DI Jack Caffery is attempting to leave behind his failed personal life in London. Still haunted by the disappearance of his brother, he is looking for a man recently released from a high-security prison, a man who sleeps rough and walks the country roads as he relives the memories of a terrifying crime.
Caffrey and Flea soon establish that the hands belong to a boy who has recently disappeared.
Their search for him, and his abductor, leads them into the darkest recesses of Bristol’s underworld, where drug addiction is rife, where street kids sell themselves for a hit, and where an ancient evil lurks; an evil that feeds off the blood – and flesh – of others…
“Hayder, one of Britain’s most talented authors, moves to another level in this spellbinder. With characters so complex, so fascinating that they could populate a dozen novels, she sends readers into a demimonde of ritual magic, desperation, guilt and death, all exquisitely composed…Ritual is brilliant, dense, scary; definitely one of the best crime novels of 2008.” The Globe and Mail
“Bristol, like you’ve never seen it before, is the backdrop of Hayder’s latest twisted tale, as DI Jack Caffery teams up with police diver Flea Marley to hunt down a man with no hands, and a tramp with a deadly past. Expect plenty of blood, gore and black magic.” Daily Mirror
“If it’s real terror you’re after – and you’ll need a strong stomach – then, as always, Mo Hayder is your woman. All her crime novels have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable and the latest, Ritual, is up there in the shock horror department…Hayder is a brave writer” Daily Mail
“Part of the pleasure of this thrilling book is the plot – trying to work out how all the threads will be connected – and pace; but another excellent aspect is how the author so well conveys the inner lives of her characters…The result is a gripping book, high on atmosphere, convincing in its portrayal of major and minor characters and their emotions, and totally involving to the reader.” Euro Crime
“Full of the trademarks that made her name: expertly deployed shock tactics, excellent research, a cast of physically, mentally or morally damaged characters, and two sympathetic protagonists with painful past lives…” Laura Wilson, The Guardian
“A vivid and thorough exploration of the clash between ancient superstition and modern science, with plenty of thrills and chills along the way.” Peter Guttridge, The Observer
“Dark, gut wrenching and gloriously readable, Ritual is a welcome return for a character who has been gone too long and for an author who has once again pushed back the boundaries of Crime Fiction.” Chrishigh.com
“There’s something almost feral about her fiction compared with other British crime writers. She may be foxy but she’s also bloody scary.” London Lite
“Another fantastic thriller from one of the best in the business.” Becky Lejeune, Book Bitch
“The queen of funky thrillers does it again when a female English police diver named Flea discovers a severed hand, leading us into the world of black market African superstitions & rituals in Bristol, England. Mo’s weird, she’s wild, I love her!!” Brookfield Bookseller
“The novel’s grotesqueries and repetitions emerge as essential elements in a perfectly articulated process of minute ratiocination and honestly earned imaginative empathy…A brilliant recovery of form. Hayder is back.” Starred Kirkus
“Hayder has long been a master at blending crime and horror genres, but this time she outdoes herself, flip-flopping the supernatural and the explainable like a cycle of poison and antidote that will remain with the reader long after the final page. Superviolent, but for those with strong stomachs, completely gripping.” Booklist
“Typical graphically horrific stuff with very dark undertones” The Bookseller
“Hayder vividly evokes torture and drug abuse, but the violence is never gratuitous. Readers looking for visceral thrills need look no further than this gritty English series” Publishers Weekly US
“The queen of funky thrillers has done it again…Mo Hayder’s weird, she’s wild, and I love her!” Shelf Awareness
“This gritty urban English police procedural hooks the audience from from the opening dive until the final confrontation…The storyline is fast-paced as the readers wonder along side Caffery and Marley…Fans will appreciate this strong investigative thriller as Mo Hayder provides an enjoyable whodunit.” Harriet Klausner
“This disturbing tale about African occult rituals and healing through harvesting human organs will creep out the steeliest reader” CTV.ca
“An author who is always willing to depict the psychologically disturbing elements of the ostensibly grotesque. . . . As was the case with Hayder’s earlier works, Ritual is a mystery where the whodunit aspect is not nearly as important as the nature of the crime itself. . . . Her savage style ventures into the modern attraction to all things supernatural and then questions contemporary assumptions about the definition of evil. Often compared to Thomas Harris, author of the Hannibal Lechter series, Hayder has a penchant for breaking boundaries. She not only expands on the modern mystery, she combines fact with fiction and the mystery with the thriller. She shocks her readers with the horrors of reality and then challenges them to question the source of their terror.” Mack Derouac, Symposium
“Part of the pleasure of this thrilling book is the plot – trying to work out how all the threads will be connected – and pace; but another excellent aspect is how the author so well conveys the inner lives of her characters…The result is a gripping book, high on atmosphere, convincing in its portrayal of major and minor characters and their emotions, and totally involving to the reader.” Maxine Clarke
“Powerful” Lizzie Hayes