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Thursday, February 06, 2014

In the Blood by Lisa Unger

In the Blood is one of those books that many will say that they couldn't put down.  Not me.  I had to put it down because the tension became so great and caused enough anxiety that I needed to get away from it.  Only briefly, however, because I was so hooked by Unger's writing. 

Evil is a debated concept.  I believe evil does exist; if not in an individual, then in the actual behavior.  I mean, was Hitler evil?  Whether or not he was, the holocaust was evil in both the magnitude and horror of the number of deaths and in each individual death.

Can a child be evil?  Again, whether or not you believe an individual to be evil or mentally ill, behavior can be evil.  Remember The Bad Seed, anyone?  Briefly:  Cute kid, heartless killer. 

 What if the cute kid has an IQ of around 180?  Now that is scary.  

While the opening scene in Lisa Unger's novel is certainly frightening, it was not until the introduction of Luke, a disturbed eleven-year-old boy, that my trepidation began to mount. 

Unger's writing is crisp and the psychological aspects are riveting.  Lots of suspense, but fortunately, no real gore.  Goes to show that a psychological thriller does not have to depend on graphic violence or bizarre murders to produce a plot that keeps the reader with bated breath about the outcome.

The twists are subtly hinted at, but even as you pick up on them, you can't always determine how they fit, and you don't have a clear picture of all of the complex possibilities until close to the end of the novel.   I couldn't help but think of Hitchcock's ability to ratchet up suspense and uncertainty in his films.

This is my first book by Unger, but I intend to try another one soon.  If her other books are as well-written as this one, I've been missing some excellent suspense.  


Psychological Thriller.  Jan., 2014. Print version:  353 pages.


  1. I really should explore on NetGalley, more. I am sure I miss stuff.

  2. It is a hit or miss kind of thing on NetGalley. They offer SO many ARCs in so many genres, it is difficult to keep up with their new releases. And even then, deciding what you might enjoy becomes a dilemma. I've had so many great books from this source, but some duds, too. It is especially nice when they offer a new listing by an author you already like!

  3. I haven't read Unger before, but she's on my list of author's to try. This book sounds like something I'd like.

    I remember seeing The Bad Seed many years ago. It reminded me of my best friend of the time's younger sister. She didn't kill anyone (that I know of), but she seemed to be heading in that direction. She could be the most perfect child when she wanted to be--or so you'd think--but there was definitely a cruel (and criminal) side to her.

  4. I liked her first (?) book, Beautiful Lies, a lot -- very interesting plot and nicely dubious characters.

  5. vicki - I will definitely add Beautiful Lies to my wishlist! I do want to read more by Unger.

  6. Wendy (LF)- I find the idea of a child with no empathy chilling. Deliberate cruelty in someone so young just boggles the mind.

  7. I'm pretty sure I've read one of her books before and it certainly kept me reading. Your description reminded me of a recent read, Evil and the Mask where the author makes you wonder about evil and can you make someone evil. Good stuff for discussion!