In the Blood – a review

In the BloodLana Grange has a lot of problems, not the least of which, her mother is dead, murdered by her father, who now sits on death row. She’s a trust fund baby, but she’s been told she needs to get a job so she can find herself. The job she lands, at the recommendation of her college professor, as a sitter for an eleven year old genius who can romp her at chess, turns out to be more of a challenge than expected, but also strangely suitable. Luke has a few issues of his own, as his cowed mother, and the lock on the outside of his bedroom door attest to. But Lana isn’t entirely bothered by any of this. She was a problem kid herself, and in a weird way, she likes the challenge.

Most people don’t see me. But there are always those that do, usually mothers. They see what I am trying to hide, even if they’re not quite sure what it is they’re seeing. I can tell by the way they can’t pry their eyes away. With my innocuous, androgynous wardrobe, my slight frame, my plain face, I usually just blend. Neither boys nor girls usually give me a second look. But sometimes, the sensitive, the keenly observant…they see me.

We quickly begin to doubt that Lana, as the narrator, is being completely honest; she hints at troubling secrets and a spotty memory of events. Though she tries to blend, there’s something off about her; something not quite right. Perhaps it’s only that she was forced to watch her father dig a grave for her murdered mother out in the woods, and coerced into lying for him to the police.

Or maybe not. When Lana’s friend Beck goes missing the police have questions. She was the last person to see Beck, and this is not the first time a girl’s gone missing after last being seen with Lana.

Is the prey complicit in its own demise? Are we not seduced in some small way by the beauty, the grace, even the dangerous soul of the predator? Do we not look into its eyes and see something that entices, even hypnotizes us?

Interspersed with Lana’s first person narration are epistolary segments told by an unidentified mother with a new baby who doesn’t seem normal. And as the baby grows his behavior becomes even more odd and worrisome. The story in the diary begins to mirror what is going on in the present of the story; just who is doing what, and to whom? Who is predator, and who prey?

Steeped in the lexicon and acronyms of abnormal psychology; ADHD, OCD, manic depression, bipolar, callous-unemotional, Lisa Unger’s In the Blood will send you to Google at least once, guaranteed. An old school psychological thriller with a fresh new feel.

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6 thoughts on “In the Blood – a review

    • I did read this book, absolutely could not put it down. So many layers, but all of it beautifully written, with insightful comments on gender roles, mental health, and the terror of loving and being loved. And then mystery over all.

  1. Ooh, Cynthia … this sounds really good. I love books that delve into the human psyche and emotional/psychological disorders. For some reason, it’s always fascinated me. Maybe because extended family has always provided so much by way of observation :-).

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