Library Lines

I just finished listening to a great audio book, and I want to recommend it to those of you who are also “listeners.” I have a fairly long commute to McClintic (about 45 minutes on good days) and so listening to audio books is a great way to pass the time.

In the Blood by Lisa Unger is a psychological mystery set in The Hollows, a small fictional town outside of New York City. Lana Granger is a college senior and working very hard to overcome a past fraught with violence. Lana’s father is currently on death row for the murder of her mother, and Lana wants to fulfill her mother’s wish that she help people by studying psychology. Things seem to be on track, with regular therapy sessions and success in her studies. But then, life takes a weird left turn.

Lana accepts a job babysitting for a young boy named Luke. His mother is very honest with Lana: Luke is troubled. He is volatile, manipulative, and at eleven years of age, a budding sociopath. Lana’s background in working with troubled youth during her college internship seems to be tailor-made for this job. While Luke’s mother tiptoes around her son, Lana seems able to relate to him, unlike all his other babysitters – who have never lasted long.

Soon after taking the job, one of Lana’s roommates disappears one Friday night. Beck has been known to go off for a day or three at times, and so no one is too concerned at first. But when she doesn’t come back, and no one hears from her, anxiety rises and her disappearance is reported to the police. As the police trace Beck’s movements, witnesses come forward to report seeing Lana and Beck in the library, arguing. Suspicions mount as Lana’s story about her whereabouts that evening doesn’t seem to coincide with witness observations. And to make matters even more tense, Luke wants to involve Lana in a scavenger hunt game he’s created — a game that seems to reveal that Luke knows something about Beck and her disappearance.

The narrator in a novel is almost always a trusted guide, revealing truths to the reader. So when the narrator suddenly seems to be holding back, keeping secrets, lying – well, it’s a bit unsettling. I was becoming more and more doubtful that I could trust Lana and her version of events. Then, in between chapters, we are given a journal, written by an anonymous woman who gives birth to a difficult baby boy. He is silent, given to rages, and his mother wonders if he may have violence in his blood, since his grandfather, the woman’s father, was executed for murdering five teenage girls. Whose journal is this? Does it relate to Lana or Luke — or someone else?

I loved the suspense of this novel, and couldn’t wait to jump in my car and continue listening. If you love plot twists, suspense, and staying on edge, then you should really try Lisa Unger’s In the Blood.

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