Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Blood and Bone by William Lashner

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Blood and Bone by William Lashner. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Blood and Bone by William Lashner


William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-114348-0 (0061143480)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-114348-9 (9780061143489)
Publication Date: February 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: At age 12, Kyle Byrne attends the funeral of his father with his mother and his Uncle, Max. Given that Liam Byrne has a wife, not Kyle’s mother, they receive a less-than-friendly reception. After they get tossed out of the church, Kyle retaliates by running back in, grabbing the urn of his father’s ashes and tearing off into the graveyard. He still has some of the ashes in the glove box of his car.

Fourteen years later, Laszlo Toth, Liam’s former law partner, dies from a gunshot wound in his office. Police detectives Ramirez and Henderson don’t quite agree on what happened that night. Ramirez, a young Hispanic female success story, thinks a robbery went wrong. Henderson, a black cop considering retirement, believes the office remained a bit too neat to be the work of a drugged-up gang member on a tear.

Kyle coasts through life, playing Xbox by day and drinking and carousing with the wrong kind of women by night. He keeps thinking he’s seen the top of his father’s gray head from time to time, most recently while running between first and second at a pub baseball game. He wonders a lot how his life would have turned out if his father hadn’t died. The murder of Toth and an odd discussion about a missing file of Liam’s with one of his former clients at the funeral causes Kyle to wonder if his father really died of a heart attack. This peaks Kyle’s curiosity like nothing has since he lost his father. He begins to investigate and realizes he might be over his head, but he’s determined to find out the truth about his father. The problem is he might find out things he didn’t want to know.

Lashner, well-known for his Victor Carl series, has opted for a stand-alone novel this time out with Blood and Bone. At its heart, this novel delves into the relationships: between fathers and sons, detective partners, men and women and between friends. One of the things I liked most about this novel is the depth of reality to these characters, and thus their imperfections. Kyle has a lot of issues, but he has a lot of charm as well. Many might feel frustrated as his life seems aimless until he hits on the goal of finding the truth about his father. But he also has a vulnerability that to me brought compassion and a sense of wanting to help him. I’ve also known a few people in similar situations, and while I certainly have wanted to knock some sense in them from time to time, it didn’t stop me from caring about them. Lashner hooked me on the first page with a lost twelve-year-old Kyle on the way to his father’s funeral. It doesn’t matter that his father wasn’t around much. He still has lots of answers. And Kyle might ask others the questions if he only knew what they were.

Lashner has terrific secondary characters as well, from the squabbling Ramirez and Henderson to Kyle’s best friend Kat (or Shin, Katie Shin—in tough girl mode) to Max, Kyle’s uncle who spends way too much time drinking at the Old Pig Snout. Lashner also lets us into the head of the killer who is a puppet of someone else. The killer’s introspection and relationship with the manipulator fascinate as well.

Lashner has crafted a fast-moving plot that alternates between the two viewpoints to maintain suspense, but the reader wouldn’t lose interest anyway. In addition to writing a terrific suspense story, Lashner succeeds on an emotional level as well. He brings to life locations as well as he does characters and emotions. For anyone who enjoys a mystery that has much more than just a superficial plot, Blood and Bone is a must read.

Special thanks to Katherine Petersen for contributing her review of Blood and Bone.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Katherine Petersen — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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Synopsis (from the publisher): For a son, every funeral before his father's death is a rehearsal and every funeral thereafter is a memorial.

Kyle Byrne, the illegitimate son of a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, had to sneak into his father's funeral when he was fourteen years old. Twelve years later, his father's death still casts a shadow upon his heart.

Now amiable and handsome, Kyle finds himself drifting through a life of slack. With his house in foreclosure and his part-time job lost, he spends his days playing Xbox and his nights in Philly bars, drinking way too much and sleeping with the wrong type of women. Life is, well, actually pretty damn sweet.

But when his father's former law partner is brutally murdered, the cops see Kyle as a possible suspect and start asking uncomfortable questions about his father's death. And after a strange encounter with one of his father's former clients, Kyle enters into a search for answers that leads from his father's past to the highest pinnacles of power—and forces Kyle to lay bare the deceptions and losses in his own life.

Just when it seems he's close to learning the truth about his father and the murder, Kyle is reminded of that old adage "be careful what you wish for." Because Kyle Byrne's most fervent wish is suddenly about to come true—with a vengeance.

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