The Black Country

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Alex Grecian
Title:  The Black Country 
The Black Country: a novel of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad by Alex Grecian is the second installment of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad and, to me, contained traces reminiscent of a crime which truly occurred. For more information on the true crime case, please see The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: a shocking murder and the undoing of a great Victorian detective by Kate Summerscale. The Murder Squad is sent to the black country or coal country to find some missing family members. Sutton Price, his wife, and his youngest son have disappeared. The three older children are fine and are being cared for by the housekeeper and watched over by the townspeople. Meanwhile, the detectives are trying to find the missing family members and being hindered by the superstitious nature of the townsfolk and by the fact that the ground is slowly giving away due to the tunnels being carved beneath for coal mining. Sutton Price’s second wife is his children’s former nanny and the children view her as an interloper. The first wife ran away. The detectives do finally succeed in unraveling the whole miserable tale in the place that is causing such trouble for the townspeople, the mineshafts. The youngest son was murdered by a most unusual suspect and gave me pause because it forces one to consider the nature versus nurture argument. Is evil learned or is it an innate force? The Black Country is an excellent read for those who appreciate a good mystery.

The weight of blood : a novel

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Laura McHugh
Title: The weight of blood : a novel
I have frequently heard the saying “Blood is thicker than water” and the novel “The weight of blood” by Laura McHugh encapsulates this saying in the actions of two brothers. “You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family … Now, it ain’t my place to tell you what to think of your own family, but you’ve got to look past what you’ve always been taught and listen to what you know in your bones to be true,” and this is what Lucy does. Lucy’s father, Carl, and Crete Dane grew up in the Ozarks in a small town named Henbane. Carl grows up under the watchful eye of Crete, his older brother and is the one who grows straight and true while Crete, somehow, becomes avaricious and accepting of coloring outside the lines. Lucy, in searching for details of her missing mother, unearths many family secrets, one of which is her uncle’s involvement in human trafficking. A gripping, haunting story told from varied viewpoints, mainly the mother’s and daughter’s but always woven throughout is the value of family. Lucy, in unraveling her family’s past and present, must choose between “the weight of blood” (aka family loyalty) and her own strong moral compass.