Steven F. Havill,
Blood Sweep
(Poisoned Pen Press, 2015)

This is the 20th novel in Steven F. Havill's Posadas County series, and it shows.

As a newcomer, I found it almost impossible to sort out all the complex relationships that it was assumed I'd know about, some of which were important to the plot. I am usually fine with being dumped "in media res" and struggling -- but this one proved to be almost past my capabilities.

I expect that fans of the series will actually find this a plus, because Havill doesn't waste much time going over old ground. I just wish he kept the names with which he referred to his characters somewhat more consistent, to give us newbies a fighting chance of catching on!

Given that, I found the plotting weak here. The title has nothing to do with the story, and the cover is only peripherally related. The various plot points are, I suppose, plausible ... but do not in the end make a lot of sense. It's not helped by the characters often behaving arbitrarily for the sake of the plot.

I particularly find Estelle's incuriosity about her family roots unlikely, and she's a main character. She also does not seem to be all that involved in her sons' lives, even the one still living at home with her. And accepting that her older son's boarding school sent him off WITHOUT parental permission to a dangerous part of Mexico -- well! And she does not throw a hissy fit at the school, she just berates herself because she had not read the school's announcement sufficiently to realize that "and others" in a program meant HER SON? If it were me, heads would be rolling! SO irresponsible of the school!

I expect that if you are a fan of the series, you'll like this installment. However, I cannot recommend it to other newbies, and am not myself tempted to read more in it.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

5 September 2015

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