Book Review

Book Review: In Their Blood by Sharon Potts

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I’m having quite the lucky streak when it comes to books. I just finished reading In Their Blood and let me tell you something: it was quite the page-turner.

As opposed to, say, Little Lamb Lost, which seemed like a more approachable murder-mystery, In Their Blood is the kind of book which invites you to step into a world you are probably never going to otherwise be able to step into. However you feel very comfortable in that world – perhaps too comfortable. And it makes reading this book all the more gripping.

The story starts opens up with a shattered family, as someone enters the Schoep’s home near midnight and shoots both parents dead with a single bullet. Neither of the Schoep’s children were home at the time. While this is probably the reason why they are still alive, it’s also a burden each bears throughout the book; Jeremy, the oldest, was in Europe, backpacking across the continent against his parents wishes, and Elise, the youngest, had snuck out of the house to be with her boyfriend.

Now before I continue, I have to be honest: this book did have a major weakness, in that it should perhaps not have been promoted as a book for adults. For Jeremy is a couple of weeks shy of 23, and this is reflected throughout the book. While it makes for great writing, it does get frustrating when one forgets this small fact. Perhaps consider putting a Post-It on your bookmark with Jeremy’s age so that you don’t forget it, and you won’t have the same problem I did.

Apart from this little occasional hiccup, In Their Blood was a great book to read. It’s hard to believe that Sharon Potts is a first time author; she seems very comfortable leading us through these harrowing times for the Schoep siblings, and doesn’t resort to the sometimes painfully overused clichés and turns of phrases used by new writers (I should know; I used to be one!)

Perhaps it’s because Sharon Potts is writing about something she knows. No, I don’t mean she knows about murdering people (if she does and I just blew her cover, I’m so in trouble…), but rather that she is a former business executive, entrepreneur and CPA, which helps lend the story authenticity. You see, Jeremy, being the rather hot-headed and quite intelligent young man that he is, decides to investigate his parents’ deaths himself. His mother used to be an auditor, and so Jeremy uses her boss’ high regard for her to secure himself a job at the same company.

Despite his intelligence, Jeremy ends up being quite human and makes many mistakes in his investigation. That’s probably because this story is as much character-driven as it is plot-driven. Yes, we want to know what is going on, we are tense at the very real fact that Elise and Jeremy might be the next intended victims, but more importantly, Sharon Potts has achieved something I find few authors in the genre manage to do: she made the protagonists as important at the plot itself. Certainly we want Jeremy to find his parents’ killers, but we also want him to step up and be a mean. And this lends the story an air of humanity that many thrillers lack.

And his parents, however great they were, weren’t perfect; one of the hurdles any adult child has to surmount is the painful realisation of just how imperfect their once seemingly perfect parents are. Sharon Potts walks the line carefully but with confidence; Jeremy definitely has a couple of shocks, and deals with the quite realistically.

The fact that this book is so real makes it sometimes a little messy to read; the plot doesn’t advance in a straight manner; there are many setbacks, and I promise, you will be irritated by some of Jeremy’s decisions. He is a reluctant protagonist, and vacillates between accepting it whole-heartedly and pushing it away as hard and as far from himself as he can. Again, a very human and young adult reaction that lends authenticity to the story.

I can’t decide if In Their Blood should remain in the adult section or if it should be put into the young adult section. On the one hand, it’s a serious book, written in a serious language about serious matters. On the other hand, it’s a coming of age story, as Jeremy steps out of his spoiled childhood into the world of adulthood and responsibility.

Which makes me think, in a world where the line between teenagerhood and adulthood is becoming more and more blurry, that we should perhaps starts a new section that encompasses both.

Wherever this book ends up being stocked at your local library, you should definitely pick it up; and, if you have a teenager, make sure to pass it forward to him/her. After all, it always helps to have something to talk about with one’s teenager, since they tend to be so hard to talk to in the first place.

Yet another reason to thank Sharon Potts for writing In Their Blood. Is there such a section as therapeutic thrillers yet?

First published here on Blogcritics.

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