Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: From Blood

Summary: After giving up on her Ph.D., Shannon Fairchild, a brilliant but alienated young woman, has settled into an unambitious life cleaning the homes of the wealthy. The sudden and horrific murder of her parents, both respected academics, leads her to discover that they were part of the radical anti-war movement of the 1960s and to suspect that their killer’s motive may lie in their past. She soon finds that they were friends of Diana Burke and John Paul West, two of America’s most wanted fugitives, anti-war militants who went underground after a fatal bombing in 1968 and never resurfaced.

Propelled by her mother’s dying words – "Find them and warn them" – Shannon sets out on a mission to track down the couple and tell them that someone is after them – someone much more dangerous than the FBI. Her search, which begins in California and ranges through much of western America, takes her into unexplored territory as she discovers an unexpected personal connection to Burke and West. As she unearths long-buried secrets while trying to stay one step ahead of a shadowy killer, she feels the passions of the tumultuous Sixties being reborn, and she now knows that nothing is more dangerous than someone willing to die for a cause. -- Vantage Point

It's pretty rare that I read a mystery novel that's not published by a major publisher; however, I was assured that I should give FROM BLOOD by Edward Wright a chance. I have to say that the book description did sound appealing, and the author has won numerous writing awards including the Shamus and Barry awards. I figured it couldn't hurt to pack it for my beach vacation.

FROM BLOOD tells the story of Shannon Fairchild, a woman who never really felt as if she belonged; and as a result, she was a very troubled woman. Rather than follow in the footsteps of her parents and finish her doctorate, Shannon decided to quit and start a housecleaning company. When both of her parents were killed in a brutal murder, Shannon began to learn new things about them -- some of which were extremely shocking. Her parents were active in the radical anti-Vietnam War movement with fugitives Diana Burke and John Paul West, and it seemed likely that they were murdered because of their involvement with them.

As Shannon's mother lay on her deathbed, she left one final message for Shannon -- to "find them and warn them." So, Shannon began her quest to track down Burke and West. Her search took her to many states where she met many interesting people, and she struggled with the balance between learning about her parent's past and keeping herself safe. In addition, she learned some startling things about her own past and the extent people will go to fight for a cause.

Overall, I was impressed with FROM BLOOD. It was an intriguing story with lots of action and suspense, and I would certainly describe it as a page turner. I thought the mystery was a good one, and for the most part, I didn't find that it was predictable (although I did figure out the twist about Shannon's past pretty quickly.) In addition, I thought the characters were complex, especially Shannon, and that the author did a good job of developing them.

One thing that I found interesting about FROM BLOOD was that it was almost part historical fiction. Not in the sense I traditionally think about when I use that term, but it did delve into some history of the anti-war movement in the 1960s. I appreciated how well the author brought to life West and especially Burke, and I did find them fascinating. Furthermore, I thought he did an excellent job of explaining the psyche of a passionate militants because, frankly, that's just not something I really "get."

FROM BLOOD did have quite a few surprise plot twists; and I thought the storyline and writing were pretty smart. While the book was fairly long (it came in at around 400 pages which I sometimes think is too long for suspense novels), I thought it was a relatively quick read and it was paced nicely. There were a few scenes that I did think could have been slightly shorter, but overall, it was a well written story.

I recommend FROM BLOOD to fans of mysteries and thrillers and readers who enjoy books about radical militants.

Thanks to Get Red PR for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

So Diana Burke and John Paul West were real people? I really like that time period so this sounds interesting to me.

Julie P. said...

They were fictional -- just portrayed as if they were very important militants during the 1960s.

Beth F said...

Very interesting -- I'm not sure I've ever read a mystery that involved militants during that time period.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

What Candace said! :--)