As in the Shakespearian tragedy, Macbeth, there are quite a few dead bodies before the end of the saga, and by now most of the survivors have passed on to the big oil rig in the sky. Unlike in most crime books, however, the reader is privy to an energetic biographical history of the lawyers, judges, prostitutes, pimps, gamblers, ruffians, cops, oil men, socialites, and even some famous Texan politicians, which could only be accomplished through massive research, countless interviews, and dissecting court transcripts and newspaper reports in an investigative fervor unmatched by many writers. Thompson was a journalist with obvious connections and charisma, in whom nearly everyone confided like a priest at the last rites.
Joan Robinson Hill is the most ambivalent character in the book, followed in a close second by her father, Ash, whose relationship with her was akin to worship. Unlucky in love, Joan is nevertheless adored by her family and friends, if not most of Houston, and represents the quintessential independent woman: talented, passionate, strong-willed, temperamental, philanthropic, and a devoted mother to her only child, a son she shared with the wretched Hill. Joan is no saint, but her failings and flaws are so endearing, she is someone with whom you can imagine being good friends or at least a doting admirer. Her death is only the beginning of a complex series of relationships, crime and murder.
If I tell you anything else, it will ruin the suspense. Buy a copy of Blood and Money. You will want to own this book, and savor every piquant page.