Review

In the Blood

by Lisa Unger

“There’s murder in my blood. A twisting rope of psychosis from my father and maternal grandfather, and probably others before them. From father to son, from father to son, it travels down the chain, a poison in the blood. Only it doesn’t kill you. I have often wished it did. I hate the thought of who I am. I despise my origins. I have done everything in my power to shed that person. And yet that person is with me always.”

This is life inside the mind of college student Lana Granger, who has to physically transform herself into someone else in order to fit in and have any chance of a normal life. Unfortunately, life does not always go according to your plans, and the past and the person Lana is hiding from will arise from the ashes and threaten to burn down all that she has created for herself.

"IN THE BLOOD will unveil Lana’s secrets --- as well as those of the many characters in her life --- with the precision that only an expert psychological novelist like Lisa Unger can display. This is a welcome start to 2014 and one that has already set the bar for thrillers to come."

IN THE BLOOD is by far Lisa Unger’s most complex psychological thriller yet. It poses the question: Is insanity, madness and homicidal behavior hereditary? Can it be passed down through a blood line from person to person with no chance of escaping the fate your own genes have laid out for you?

Lana is attempting to bury a past that includes her father being imprisoned for murdering her mother. The only issue it that she is not completely convinced that this is how it really happened. To further muddy the issue, a younger Lana helped her father bury her mother’s body. But she never actually saw him kill her.

She has lost touch with him and tries to find a semblance of normality at a small college where she is kept straight by her academic advisor and the psychiatrist she regularly visits.  However, when Lana’s roommate, Beck, goes missing, her own past quickly will be called into question and the local police want to dig further into this. Beck’s disappearance follows the death some time earlier of another college friend who was found dead at the base of a flight of concrete stairs.

Lana takes a job after school where she cares for and tutors a special needs and potentially dangerously psychotic young man named Luke. Luke enjoys games like chess and his own self-made scavenger hunts. He also seems to know way too much about Lana and her past, and also displays eerie insight into the disappearance of her roommate. His background is slowly uncovered through a series of diary entries made by his mother that are interspersed throughout the novel.

Lana is a person with well-kept secrets who is realizing that you cannot create your own life but that life creates you. IN THE BLOOD will unveil Lana’s secrets --- as well as those of the many characters in her life --- with the precision that only an expert psychological novelist like Lisa Unger can display. This is a welcome start to 2014 and one that has already set the bar for thrillers to come.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 9, 2014

In the Blood
by Lisa Unger