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The early Jonathan Stride series is gritty , unpredictable, and fun. This book is sappy, predictable, and oh so politically woke preachy. Not one character more than one dimensional - white hats black hats good versus evil. Olivia, the teen protagonist is just plain annoying and a bully at heart. Some romantic passages are embarrassingly corny. Hoping Freeman goes back to the Jonathan Stride books and pure escapist fun reads.
5.0 out of 5 starsA Great Read with an Interesting Message
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2013
In Brian Freeman's SPILLED BLOOD, a standalone mystery/thriller, Chris Hawk's only daughter, Olivia, is arrested for the murder of a high school classmate. Stunned, Chris leaves his lucrative law practice in Minneapolis to go to St. Croix, a small Minnesota town, to help clear her name--and spend time with his ex-wife, Hannah, with whom he's still in love. When he arrives, he finds that the entire town of St. Croix is feuding with its neighboring town, Barron. At the center of the conflict is the father of the murdered girl--and his Barron-based corporation, Mondamin, a company involved in research of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), that is blamed, rightly or wrongly, for the cancers that have killed several St. Croix teenagers. The situation is close to explosive, and teen-on-teen violence has become a significant problem between the towns.
The characters in this fine thriller are well drawn, their emotional lives realistically fleshed out, and the plot complex. I was totally surprised by the ending, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Freeman had carefully left clues. I just wasn't smart enough to pick, up on them.
You might think that this is a politically motivated rant against GMOs, but it's not that at all. That plot point is simply a mechanism Freeman uses to engineer the feud between the towns, and it's used effectively. In part, the theme of this book is our species' inability to deal with change, our tendency to polarize around fear, especially in the absence of fact, and its message is a good one. It's also a book about addiction, strangely enough, and the lengths to which people will go to deal with their addictive behaviors.
I really liked this book, and will go back to find more of Freeman's work.