A taut thriller about two rural Minnesota towns locked in a deadly feud—and a teenage girl caught in the crossfire.
Linked by the Spirit River, the two towns couldn’t be more different: in affluent Barron, a powerful and secretive scientific research corporation enriches its residents, while downriver in blue-collar St. Croix, victims of that company’s carcinogenic waste struggle to survive. The bad blood between the communities escalates into open warfare when the beautiful Ashlynn, daughter of the corporation’s president, is found shot dead—and a St. Croix girl, Olivia Hawk, is accused of the crime.
Reluctantly, Olivia’s mother summons her estranged husband, Christopher, a Minneapolis lawyer, to come defend his daughter. As Christopher struggles to unravel the mystery of Ashlynn’s murder and save his own daughter, he uncovers some ugly truths that endanger the residents of both towns. And looming over everything are the chilling, apocalyptic threats from a murderous psychopath known only as "Aquarius".
©2012 Brian Freeman (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Brian Freeman is, quite simply, a first-rate storyteller.” (Nelson DeMille, New York Times best-selling author)
“This guy can tell a story.” (Michael Connelly)
“Harrowing…. Freeman ratchets up the suspense steadily, and then provides a cataclysmic ending.” (Publishers Weekly)
Another novel from Brian Freeman, a stand-alone, this time about southern Minnesota. Freeman is particularly good at describing scenery. Two towns on the Spirit River: one a prosperous town with a plant that manufactures pesticides and genetically modified grain. Down the river a second town, where working class people live, many without jobs, and some dying inexplicably of cancer, perhaps from the water brought down river from the first town? The working class town files a suit against the owner of the plant in the other town regarding the cancer deaths, but a top knotch scientist is brought in to analyze the river and the soil, and finds the company not at fault. But now the two towns are at the boiling point, and teenagers from either town roam into the other town reeking havoc-not unlike gang warfare in cities. Ashlyn, the daughter of the plant owner, is murdered in a deserted ghost town that used to be a town before the land was too damaged to support life. One of the last people to see her was Olivia, whose best friend, Kimberly, had died from leukemia, which people blame on the water. Olivia and Ashlyn have an argument, and the next day Ashlyn is dead. The last one people think saw her alive was Olivia, so the county attorney is going to bring murder charges against her. Olivia’s mother, Hannah, calls her ex-husband, a top knotch criminal defense lawyer in to help his daughter. As the story moves along, more and more layers of secrets involving the residents of both towns are revealed. A very good thriller which doesn’t back down in intensity through the entire book. Joe Barrett continues to read Freeman’s books for the audio version, and his somewhat informal chatty style fits these books well.
A mystery built more on character development than on the plot itself. And, while some of the relationships seem a tad too pat (the divorced couple that gets along like few married couples do, for example), overall I thought it was extremely entertaining. Quite frankly, I had a hard time putting it down and was sorry when it was over.
As others have said, there is a feud between two towns, a murder, and the ex-wife calls her husband (the main character) when their daughter is arrested as the #1 suspect. At first, it seems like an open and shut case...except our guy starts uncovering layer upon layer of deceit. By the end, I was quite glad i did not live in a small town!
I thought the narrator was excellent. Yes, he overdid the Minnesota accent a couple of times...but, not being from there, I could live with it. He did an amazing job with all the rest.
Yes, I would definitely recommend this.
Speaker, Coach, Author - in Reno, NV (A GREAT place!) I've been an avid Audible fan for several years. Listen on my iPhone many hours each week.
Gosh, this one was a winner. It's about adults and their struggles but the teens who are involved make this a richer book and story. I was completely engaged throughout the entire book. Freeman is a master with story and somehow pulling in so many facets of people and possibilities. Joe Barrett does a great job with the narration. I have enjoyed him on other Brian Freeman books and will be looking for this duo for the next one. I'm going shopping right now!
I've loved all Brian Freeman's books -- I think I've read/listened to them all. So I was prepared to love this one like I loved the others -- I enjoy the Minnesota setting, the real, down-to-earth people, the relatively believable plots, the tension and suspense. But this one? Not so much.
It's a little creepy, y'know? There are all these adults, getting themselves all wrapped up in their teen's love affairs, including the mechanics thereof... so much so, that at times, it seemed like what was probably supposed to come off as "concerned parent" instead looked more like "dirty old man". Maybe it was the narrator reading more into it than was written, but my antenna were wiggling, big time. There were definitely times I wouldn't want those people within ten feet of my own kids. Yuk!
Then too, there's way too much helicopter parenting here. And I'm getting more than a little tired of the "He's my son/daughter. Therefore I know he/she didn't do it" story line. C'mon. Give us some reason WHY the kid didn't do it, something other than genetics.
And the narrator. Well, I AM from that part of the country, and while I appreciate the effort, narrator Joe Barrett laid it on a little thick. There is the distinct Minnesota "o", of course. But not everyone sounds like Ole and Lena.
Bottom line: It was just overdone, the whole thing -- including the laying on of the "I'm a Christian" thing with a trowel. We are repeatedly lectured on all the things "a Christian" wouldn't do. Count me as a cynic, but it seems to me that even some people who claim the "Christian" label have been known to do things that aren't exactly kosher, if you can forgive the mixed metaphor. It's like the "my son/my daughter wouldn't do such a thing" rationale. Some sons and daughters DO do such things. Some Christians don't always toe the line. In this book, there were way too many attempts at categorical exemptions -- it just didn't work for me.
Next time a Brian Freeman book comes up, I'll look a little more closely before clicking "buy".
Audio Book Fiend
This was the best Brian Freeman novel I've listened to so far. I thought the storyline was well written and certainly wasn't predictable. The feeling of the rural area was communicated well, and the story all tied together in the end, even though I thought there would be loose ends. My only concern was that there is quite a bit of violence, but I don't know that's unusual in most thrillers these days.
Totally addicted to Audible.
I am just blown away by this book. A gripping story, pitch perfect performance, and compelling characters make this book one you will not be able to put down. Start this one on a long trip or a weekend - and enjoy!
Much of the action and dialog involves high school students....first strike. Second strike, the high school students didn't act like, talk or behave like I believe any high school students would. Protagonist (as well as most characters) was flat and wooden. I appreciate a story that explores seed/dna manipulation by Agri-business. But, while that was clearly a component of the story, it went largely unexplored. I found nothing wrong with the narration.
List of favorite books: Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, Consent to Kill, First Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders, Sniper Elite - Scott McEwen
It didn't floor me, but it was a nice easy get-away. I bought another book by Brian Freeman based off of reviews, and the fact that I enjoyed his writing style.
This may appear again now and then.
Dear God: Please let this man write another book soon and please let me be here to listen to it. I can't say something like 'even his worst book is good' because I can't think of anything he's done that is worse than anything else.
Before I post this list I have to say that Sandford, Parker and MacDonald are EXTRA special. And Richard Ferrone as John Sandford's voice is an amazing match. Like George Guidall with Craig Johnson and pretty much anything George reads.
Robert B. Parker lived in this space for me as did John D. MacDonald. Currently, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, John Hart, Craig Johnson, John Lescroart, William Kent Krueger Ridley Pearson ,and Jonathan Kellerman. Some others are really good but these guys have something special. If you are into mystery-thrillers I just gave you a back catalog I wish I could have...but I HAVE had it and it is an incredible treasure. I stopped going to libraries and swap places just so I can encourage these guys by sending them money. Please enjoy.
P.S. Adding Brian Freeman.
Spilled Blood was very good! My fav writer right now is Dean Koontz, but this book rated right up there.
I liked that it was located in Minnesota, right next to my state, and I could identify with the towns and scenery. What I didn't like was the narrator made some of the characters talk like the characters in the movie "Fargo" using the "oofta-like" lingo, or like "ya know". We don't really talk like that here. Very insulting.
All in all, a very good narrator.
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