Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: Blood Relations: A Good Mormon Girl Mystery

Holy cow.  That was the first thing I uttered after I finished this book.  It was that good.  It was the kind of book that I've been looking for (a twisty clean, really well-done mystery) and haven't quite been able to find to this degree.  It was unexpected.

Blood Relations by Michaelbrent Collings is about Lane Cooley, a captain and one of the best homicide detectives in the LAPD.  She's a Mormon, but it's just part of who she is.  There was one part of the book where it describes how her job sometimes makes her feel like she's standing over a dark abyss and prayer was what keeps her tethered from the darkness.  I'm not doing it justice at all, but that's how the book is---the LDS aspect is there, but not central. It's part of her, but not all of her.  It's layered into the story and a background aspect the author handles really well---which is hard to find these days.

Lane is investigating a serial killer who is murdering blonde, white, 17 year old girls.  Her investigative team is diverse and they've made a little family that gives them a foundation to get through the grisly parts of the job.  I really loved how quirky and real the team was, especially when danger drew them closer together.  And danger hits them hard when the serial killer sets his sights on Lane's 17 year old sister.  The tension was ramped up with every chapter and I read this sucker in one sitting.  I had to know who the killer was and even when I'd decided who it was, I was thrown off by the twist at the end.  Seriously, so, so good.  The sister is written so well and the growth in the characters was natural and organic. Since I had never read this author before, I was a bit surprised at how well he wrote women.

The writing is tight, the dialogue is natural, and the characters draw you in, although the serial killer and investigative elements are what really set this one apart.  I thought that Lane also being the Relief Society president was a bit unrealistic and since they really only have her deal with someone in her ward once, that storyline thread is pretty much dropped anyway and could have been left out.  But obviously that has no bearing on the story.  The mystery was so well-done, the idea that the story had an LDS character without the book being LDS was so gratifying, that that one little thing didn't matter.  The other complaint I had was the cover.  It looked so juvenile to me and not reflective of the really good writing inside it.  But, once you open the book the cover doesn't matter either, and the story will suck you in---hard. So, don't judge this book by its cover because you will be missing out on a great story if you do.

This book does describe some grisly parts of the murders, but they're not gory, which I appreciated.  There wasn't any swearing, sex, or gore, and I think I'd let my older teenagers read this one.  It was a chilling psychological thrill ride that really makes me want to check out this author for more Good Mormon Girl mysteries.

Here's the back copy:

Lane Cooley is the best Homicide Detective on the LAPD. But she isn't anything like you'd imagine. She's no fast-talking femme fatale... no, she's a Good Mormon Girl who doesn't smoke, drink, cuss, or even watch R-rated movies.
But that doesn't mean Lane misses out on all the blood and guts. Especially now. A new serial killer is in town, one who knows all the cops' tricks, all their secrets. One who is targeting young girls, killing them, and cutting them to pieces.

Now, Lane has to race against the clock to find the killer. Because the murderer has chosen his next victim. And it's Lane's little sister.


Debra Erfert said...

I didn't know Michaelbrent wrote mysteries. I've got to check this out. Thanks.

Julie Daines said...

Sounds like a cool story--and right down my ally, because I write LDS suspense. I'm definitely checking this book out! Thanks for the review.