Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blood Always Tells, by Hilary Davidson

Forge, 2014
320 pp

arc (my many thanks to the author for my copy)

It's the perfect reading day here -- rainy, gray, overcast.  The housecleaner person has been and gone, so it's my one day that rolls around every every two weeks for doing whatever I want to do.  My choice was to finish Blood Always Tells, the newest novel by Hilary Davidson.  Quite honestly, I'm usually up to my neck in really dark noir or I'm into translated crime, so I've not read anything by this author before  and I didn't quite know what to expect.  Once I started reading, it was an easy story to get into and an even easier story to stay with.

Sadly, I can't really give more than a brief overview of this book because it would totally wreck things for potential readers, but I'll tell what I can.  Dominique Monaghan is a former model who becomes entangled with Gary Cowan, former boxer and serious loser.  He's married to a multi-billionaire who was forced to take on a husband by her father or forfeit the family fortune. He's stuck -- he can't divorce her and she can't divorce him without remarrying in thirty days, something she doesn't want to do.   Dominique knows all of this and also knows that Gary's  marriage is a total sham. What she can't forgive though, is that she's seen him in some photos with a young girl who looks like she's still in high school -- so she plans a little blackmail for revenge. But things go terribly awry, and stranded in a strange house, in the middle of the night she manages to make a call to her brother Desmond for help. Desmond, who's been her protector since she was four years old, rushes to her aid. It isn't long until he unwittingly finds himself in the middle of a strange and twisted plot that makes him a person of interest to the police and worse, a target for people who don't like him getting involved in their affairs.

It's interesting how the author structured this novel. It's written in three parts, each headed by a name of a character whose life is tied to a secret of some sort.  These characters also have to weigh whether or not the secrets they keep will put them at an advantage or disadvantage if revealed -- and sometimes the choice is a tough one because of the very human costs involved. The title is also very appropriate -- it's just too bad I can't say why, but whoever reads the book will definitely understand.

This novel is a much lighter sort of book  than  I usually pick up, so I had to approach it a little differently than normal.  Overall,  Blood Always Tells was a pretty good read, and considering my usual fare, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.   It starts right away  with a complicated and knotty puzzle that drew me in right away; before long there are a lot more questions than answers to sift through  -- my kind of mystery.  There's an added bonus at the beginning as well -- the establishment of a creepy atmosphere with an old house out in the middle of the Pennsylvania woods, where there are no nearby neighbors and where Dominique has no clue where she might be.  While I have to admit to figuring out part of the answers before the ending, there are a number of twists that kept me guessing as to what was really going on here.  That's always a plus -- if I can figure things out easily, I'm very disappointed.   I will say that I enjoyed parts one and two much more than part three -- this one seemed a little rushed to me and not as well developed as the others either in terms of  the characters or in terms of storyline; the ending was also a bit abrupt.  I actually checked to see if there was more after the ending just because I wasn't expecting it to end like it did.   I also thought that the NYC detective guy was maybe a little typecast.  On the other hand, the author writes without having to resort to padding her book with unnecessary sex scenes, cheesy romantic moments,  f-bombs, or the usual chapters on chapters of inner turmoil that many modern authors seem to think must absolutely be part of a crime novel.  She stays on task, and is very no nonsense and to the point, something I very much appreciate.

Blood Always Tells has a solid mystery at its core as well as a few twists I never saw coming.  I think this book would be perfect for crime readers who like the police on the periphery rather than as the main focus of the story.  It's also a good choice for readers who just aren't into the overly-edgy/gritty noirish-type novels and prefer their crime on the lighter side,  meaning that it's  more of a straight-up mystery novel without a lot of sex and  gratuitous violence filling the pages.  I think there are probably many more readers in this category, so it should be a great success.

My thanks again to the author -- I enjoyed leaving my usual darkness-reading self behind for a couple of days!


  1. OK. This is going on my TBR list. Maybe someday I'll get to it. (sigh) Sounds like a perfect rainy day or hot summer weekend.


I don't care what you write, but do be nice about it