Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Bloodline by Jess Lourey
Narrator: Whitney Dykhouse
Published by Brilliance Audio on January 1, 2021
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Length: 9 hours, 38 minutes
Pregnant journalist Joan Harken is cautiously excited to follow her fiancé back to his Minnesota hometown. After spending a childhood on the move and chasing the screams and swirls of news-rich city life, she’s eager to settle down. Lilydale’s motto, “Come Home Forever,” couldn’t be more inviting.
And yet, something is off in the picture-perfect village.
The friendliness borders on intrusive. Joan can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being tracked. An archaic organization still seems to hold the town in thrall. So does the sinister secret of a little boy who vanished decades ago. And unless Joan is imagining things, a frighteningly familiar figure from her past is on watch in the shadows. Her fiancé tells her she’s being paranoid.
I have read many mystery/ thrillers this past year. I am discovering my preference is police procedurals and political thrillers, more than psychological thrillers. Bloodline is definitely a psychological thriller. The setting is Minnesota in areas I know. There is a well-developed world with large cast of characters who felt real enough. Anyone who has lived in a small town, as I did growing up, will recognize some of the insular things which happen.
Our point of view and main character is Joan. She lives in Minneapolis and wants to be a reporter of important stories, not just woman’s areas. She has a long time friend, Ursula. Not long after her mother dies, she meets a man and falls in love. They move back to his small hometown.
Joan has no one except this new boyfriend / fiance. She tries to make a life for them and goes to work at the local newspaper. It’s so creepy in this town; it feels like Joan is being gaslighted. I also thought maybe Joan was a bit crazy or unreliable. She is not presented as the best person as she shows a few undesirable traits.
It is very suspenseful to watch as Joan tries to figure everything out and be increasingly under scrutiny. It would have been easier for me, although put me even more on edge, if there hadn’t been the possibility of Joan being untrustworthy. It would also be more believable, and a more powerful story, if the townspeople weren’t quite so over the top weird.
It wasn’t difficult to stay interested in reading but it wasn’t enjoyable. Until the last 10-15% of the story as the mysteries are solved. Joan fights for herself and her baby. The ending is told more factually and less is in the shadows. There are some loose ends I would have liked to have had finished. Thankfully, Joan ends up having at least a couple friends.
I buddy read this story with my friend Carole, at Carole’s Random Life of Books.
I am new to this narrator and she did an admirable performance. I was comfortable with all the voices with differences between not only male and female but also between different characters. Mostly she was Joan, both speaking and in her mind, which fit well. I listened at my usual 1.5x speed.
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