Summary: Architect Peter Crookham is running late for a dinner party with his estranged journalist brother and his gorgeous German wife, Mariana. He enters his home to discover his brother viciously stabbed to death and his wife covered in blood and clutching a knife, in a nearly catatonic state. Refusing to accept that Mariana could be responsible for Andy’s death, Peter vows to clear her name.
As he begins to search the past for clues, Peter soon learns that Andy had been looking into Mariana’s murky past in Germany, and had even traveled to Berlin to piece together some facts about her childhood. Anxious for answers, Peter retraces his brother’s steps in East Berlin–and finds himself caught in a web of intrigue involving violent remnants of the former East German security service, the feared STASI.
With a split narrative that alternates back and forth between Peter’s current hunt for the truth and the horrendous realities of life in communist East Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s, Blood Relative asks the question: How well do we really know the ones we love? -- Quercus
When I read the description for BLOOD RELATIVE by David Thomas, I thought it sounded like an intriguing mystery. The first paragraph got my attention in a serious way -- Peter Crookham comes home to find his brother dead. His wife Mariana covered is covered in blood and holding a knife. Despite the evidence, the man is certain that his wife is innocent and determined to get to the bottom of this murder.
I will admit the second paragraph didn't interest me quite the same way the first half of the description did, and I don't know why. However, I still was intrigued by the idea that this book explored East Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s and the East German security agency known as STASI. (I honestly can't remember if I've ever read a book about the STASI and East Germany.) When Peter realizes that he knew very little about Mariana and her family, his investigation takes him to Berlin where he uncovers some dark secrets about his wife's past and finds his own life at risk.
I couldn't wait to delve into BLOOD RELATIVE and with good reason. This book is a tightly woven psychological thriller that was very entertaining. I appreciated Mr. Thomas' writing style, and I was impressed with how he told the story through alternating narratives. The story was a told in Peter's voice but also flashed back to the horrible conditions that existed in East Berlin under communist rule. Trust me when I say that these sections were very disturbing and, at times, difficult to read.
I most appreciated the storyline about Peter's struggle to accept his wife's role in his brother's murders. I found his desire to prove his wife's innocence to be interesting, although there were times when I thought he was a little crazy for his steadfast refusal given the evidence. However, I found the history of Mariana's past to be fascinating too... and I wasn't even sure I would be interested in that aspect of the novel. The author did a great job of bringing the stories together, and the ending was satisfying.
BLOOD RELATIVE was a page-turner, both because of the mystery and the flashbacks to communist East Germany. Highly recommended to fans of thrillers and suspense novels.
Thanks to the publisher 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.