Review copy was received from NetGalley, Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Blood Sisters by Vanessa Lillie
Narrator: Carolina Hoyos, Erin Tripp
Published by Berkley, Penguin Audio on October 31, 2023
Length: 9 hours, 49 minutes
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
A visceral and compelling mystery about a Cherokee archaeologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs who is called back to rural Oklahoma to investigate the disappearance of two women…one of them is her sister…
There are secrets in the land. As an archaeologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Syd Walker spends her days in Rhode Island trying to protect the land's Indigenous past, even as she’s escaping her own. While Syd is dedicated to her job, she’s haunted by a night of violence she barely escaped in her Oklahoma hometown fifteen years ago. Even though she swore she’d never go back, the past comes calling.
What happens to the land happens to the women. When a skull is found near the crime scene of her youth, just as her sister, Emma Lou, disappears, Syd knows she must return to Oklahoma. She refuses to let her sister, or the remains, go ignored as so often happens in cases of missing Native women. But not everyone is glad to have Syd home. The search for Emma Lou puts Syd in the crosshairs of local drug dealers looking to build an empire and vengeful vigilantes policing the abandoned mines, while government officials silence tribal rights.
The truth will be unearthed.
I always enjoy stories with aspects from other cultures and Blood Sisters has some of the Native American history. I didn’t know until the author’s note how much of it is based on a true story. The government and its agencies have been very unfair and even cruel.
Syd Walker is an archaeologist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She currently lives and works in Rhode Island. Her boss sends her to a case in Oklahoma where she grew up and a skull has been found. Syd doesn’t want to go. She has been shutting off that part of her life since the incident where she, her sister and best friend were attacked. She feels guilty that not everyone lived, and also for the large number of native women who go missing every year. Syd arrives in Oklahoma to find her sister has gone missing.
At the same time, her partner has finally gotten pregnant and she’s not sure how she feels about it. It’s tied into her whole past where she couldn’t protect everyone. Throughout, Syd is working through her feelings and beliefs.
The skull case is given very little time and effort. The local BIA supervisor is a friend from high school but doesn’t want her there. Syd spends her time hunting for her sister. Her instincts are fair. She at least has some good ideas about how to find her. She runs up against lots of opposition which may be why her sister has disappeared. But she is seriously TSTL going into situations and being beaten up, being saved or escaping after some damage to herself. She has no weapons or seemingly any defense training, yet continues going into very dangerous situations up against guns, knives and superior numbers.
The actuality of what is happening is a wild twist I won’t share. There was plenty of action (Syd being beaten up or running). Syd did get to the answers though. The conclusion is satisfying, sad and realistic. Everything doesn’t end up happy with so much betrayal and bad having happened, but justice has been served. There is a foundation to build to a better future.
The two narrators handle the two points of view. One is Syd and the majority of the story. The other is a captive, more limited and less reliable. I was comfortable with the voices and enjoyed the performance. I listened at my normal 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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