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Crime & Beyond met this month to discuss yet another new author (for us). We read In the Blood by Lisa Unger, and the reviews were unprecedentedly (yeah, that’s a word) excellent across the board. You heard me right, we all really loved the book. Every single score was an 8 or higher except one. Now you know I don’t name names Janice so don’t ask me to tell you who it was Janice cause you’re never gonna get it out of me Janice.

I feel the need to break down the scores because they were so impressive. There was one 7, one solid 8, 2 people who were torn between 8-9, seven scores of 9 and three of us gave it a 10. Pat and Kim hadn’t read the whole thing yet, so they weren’t able to score it. But those are some pretty impressive numbers. I give Pat and Kim credit if they read/finish the book after coming to the meeting because boy did we lay out all the spoilers.

The book followed Lana, a college student whose mother was murdered and whose father in in prison on death row for that murder (Lana has flashbacks of seeing him bury the body). Her college professor, Langdon, convinces her to take a job helping a severely disturbed and disturbing 11-year-old boy near the college and during this time her roommate goes missing. Since a prior roommate also went missing, and was found dead, the police question Lana about the latest disappearance. We learnt that Lana and the missing roommate, Beck, had a closer relationship than most know, and when we, as readers, see Lana lie to the police, we begin to wonder what really happened—both to Beck and to Lana’s Mom. The chapters with Lana are mixed in with diary chapters that follow a very disturbed boy and his mother’s way of coping with his behavior.

Since the spoilers are all out there, I can say that most of us followed the red herring all the way to thinking that the diary was written by Lana’s employer, Rachel, and concerned the 11-year-old she is “babysitting.” We find out that Lana is in fact Lane, and the troubled boy in the diary is her/him and the mother is Lana/Lane’s mother, not Rachel. Many of us thought that Lana had killed her mother and that her father took the fall for her. We find out that Rachel is really her father’s mistress (and her mother’s killer) and the 11-year-old is her half-brother. These revelations were carefully woven into the story and the book was extremely suspenseful and the twists were great. This is really the kind of book we like to read, and Lisa Unger did an excellent job of dropping clues that we promptly ignored.

The professor being one of the bad guys wasn’t as much of a surprise to some. Many people saw that one coming as soon as his character walked on the page, others figured it out as the book progressed. He made for an excellent person that we loved to hate, though.

There really were mostly positive comments about the book, including: liked the writing, well-developed characters, spot on with the description of the troubled kids and how they tormented their families, loved it, grabbed me right away. Raj summed it up with “dark, darker, darkest.”

AmysChessCookies

Amy's chess cookies.

Some of the red herrings we fell for: thought the writer of the diary was Rachel, thought Lana killed her mother, didn’t know the professor was a bad guy, and I don’t’ think ANYONE suspected Lana was Lane until the author gave enough clues. We loved the ending and how Lana, as Lane, checkmated her little disturbed brother. The one thing we weren’t sure about was whether or not Langdon was the one who lured the first roommate away and was maybe responsible for her falling to her death. Otherwise, all other threads were tied up into a neat little bow.

The slap vote went to Langdon, with Rachel as a close second.

Next month we’re reading That Night by Chevy Stevens. We’re on FIRE with new authors. I am supposed to lead with Raj bringing snacks. I have concert tickets in Boulder that night and would appreciate it if someone could lead for me and take some notes on the meeting. I will send another email asking for a leader (in case not everyone reads these little summaries). Thanks!

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