Well, when you come across a book that’s a flat C, you know it. There’s nothing wrong with the book that would drop it down into D or F territory, but, on the other hand, there’s nothing that pulls it out of the mind-numbing crowd either. Judith E. French’s Blood Ties is a perfect example of a flat-out middle of the road C.
A follow-up to last year’s Blood Kin, this one tells the story of Native American archaeologist Abbie Night Horse and small town police chief Buck Davis. Abbie comes to the small village on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to assist her mother in a dig seeking major finds that some in town hope will help them repel big city snake-y developers planning to destroy the island’s peaceful serenity. (Bad Big City Forces at work, you see. Have you heard that tune before?)
Amidst spooky talk of an evil Medicine Man haunting the woods, a body is found and Buck doesn’t believe the cause of death was drowning. Soon enough, however, Abbie’s mother is murdered, too, and the valuable relics she has with her are stolen. Clearly, something evil is afoot.
Okay, on the positive side, the author does a nice job of evoking her setting. I know the Eastern Shore and people there can be a bit on the insular side, so that felt realistic. What was a bit more problematic for me as a reader is that I hadn’t read the first book in the series as the author clearly expects the reader to have done. The couple from that book – and I was only able to figure this out by reading the AAR review – features prominently in this one and the author jumps right into their story secure in the knowledge that a reader both knows (and remembers) their story. Well, I didn’t.
As for the characters, they are pretty much standard issue. Buck is that familiar guy who did time as a cop out there in the big world and then returned to his home town to run the police force. Abbie is competent in her job and a likable enough heroine. Still, just one day after finishing the book I can’t remember anything that stood out about either character and that is not a good thing. Add in a secondary cast of familiar crusty-but-benign characters and that flat C grade is cemented even further.
I should mention, however, that for a warm-ish book, there is an unusually high body count and quite a bit of time spent in the creepy killer’s POV, so if you’re especially sensitive to stuff like this, this is a book you’ll probably want to avoid.
As for the rest of us, any readers out there who loved Blood Kin might want to give this one a try, otherwise my advice is to spend your time and your money elsewhere.