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Book Review: Blood And Bone by William Lashner

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I’m a recent fan of William Lashner’s Victor Carl series, so I’m still picking up books in that run. Thankfully, Lashner is incredibly easy to read. I’ll be caught up soon. Even though Lashner has laid his series to rest (hopefully only temporarily), his writing career continues. Given his latest book, Blood And Bone, he’s going to be just as successful at standalone thriller novels as he was in his series.

I don’t know what went into the decision to shelve Victor Carl for the time being, but I hated to see that hero go. Victor wasn’t a superman. He was simply a guy trying to survive in a hostile landscape where everyone seemed to ultimately turn against him. He has a lot in common with Kyle Byrne, the protagonist of Lashner’s latest novel.

Kyle is 26 and is the ultimate slacker. He doesn’t know what to do with his life, doesn’t know where he’s going, and seems to know even less about where he came from. This book is about issues between fathers and sons, and that’s an issue dear to my heart both as a father and as a son. Fathers and sons seem to get what should be simple things screwed up more often than anyone else in the world.

I felt Kyle’s pain about not knowing his father’s true story. I don’t know that many sons know their fathers’ true stories, and that theme is one that is played solidly throughout this book. I also enjoyed the fact that Kyle played little league and college baseball, and was something of a superstar. And he was always the guy looking over his shoulder to see if his father had made the game. His disappointment was true, and is something that I think every son has experienced some of at one point or another.

Kyle’s own troubles magnify quickly, and I was drawn into the story in a heartbeat. The opening chapter of him as a 12-year old forced to attend the funeral of the father he barely knew hooked me. The feelings he had of being totally lost during this event are easily understandable, and the results were amazingly emotional.

Blood And Bone moves on and picks up again with Kyle grown up 14 years later. His mother has recently died from cancer and he’s been evicted from the family home. Then, while he’s playing at a softball game (his playing prowess is the only reason he keeps his job in a bar), he thinks he sees his father in the stands. As a result, he forgets to honor a promise to his boss to fill in for a shift and ends up getting fired by one of his best friends.

Then, as if that isn’t enough, people start hunting him down, digging into an old file that was one of his father’s cases. Suddenly, many of the dark secrets Attorney Liam Byrne kept for many years start spilling out into the public eye. And some of the dangerous people looking for those secrets come calling on Kyle, expecting him to know where to find the ones that are the most harmful.

I really admire Kyle’s character. Slacker though he may be, he’s also a standup guy and a jock, a guy who doesn’t back down from trouble. He handles himself well on the physical plane while dealing with some of his father’s old enemies. Kyle’s motivation remains true, though: he just wants the chance to get to know more about his father. Painfully, he learns that everything there is to know isn’t always good.

In the background of Kyle’s journey, a terrifying killer emerges from his own personal crucible and becomes a lethal threat. Kyle has to jockey between two intelligent police detectives, the Hungarian mafia, and politicians willing to kill to keep their secrets. Before he can finish his quest, he’s joined by the most unlikeliest of partners.

Blood And Bone is entertainment at its finest. Pure adrenaline driven puzzle, a heartstring puller, and a statement about the necessity of friends and family. Maybe there are few plot holes, maybe there are few larger than life characters, but Lashner provides the best kind of suspenseful fun.

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