Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review: Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub

Blood Red (Mundy's Landing, Book #1)
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Release Date: September 29th 2015
2015 William Morrow
Ebook Edition; 416 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062349736
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

The razor's gleaming blade slices effortlessly through skin and tendon, and he relishes the final anguished moments of his prey. There's only one thing he prizes more: their long, silken strands of red hair. But these women are merely stand-ins . . . a prelude to his ultimate victim.

Nestled in New York's Hudson Valley, Mundy's Landing is famous for its picturesque setting—and for a century-old string of gruesome unsolved murders. Rowan returned to her hometown years ago, fleeing a momentary mistake that could have destroyed her family. Life is good here. Peaceful. Until an anonymous gift brings Rowan's fears to life again.

The town's violent history was just the beginning. Soon everyone in Mundy's Landing will know that the past cannot be forgotten or forgiven—not until every sin has been paid for, in blood.

My Thoughts
Blood Red is one of those books that had some really interesting moments in it, but it had to do more with the family relationships than to do with the actual suspense of the story.  I thought the relationship the main character Rowan had with various members of her family, and how it all developed over the years, to be quite fascinating, but to be honest, lost interest quite quickly in the chapters devoted to the suspense as I thought they tended to drag on and weren't all that interesting.

What I really did enjoy in this novel is the relationship between Rowan and her son, Mick, and the relationship between Rowan and her sister.  It was interesting to watch the ongoing development of the relationship between Rowan and her son, especially as they share the same medical condition, ADHD.  While a bit of the medical condition was discussed in this novel, it was more about Mick's obsession with an older girl in school and how he dealt with that situation - and I use the term obsession rather loosely here as some of his behaviour was a bit alarming and kind of bordered on the stalking edge of obsession, especially to a girl to whom he barely speaks.  While it's totally normal to want to see a girl you like at school and to even change one's schedule as to how one gets to class just to get a glimpse of that girl, it is not normal to fight with your friends because they mention things about that girl that you don't like, as in she's got a boyfriend.  So, I found the dialogue between Rowan and Mick quite interesting.  I also don't think the problem was resolved in this novel.

The relationship between Rowan and her sister, Noreen, was also quite interesting, more in what was left unsaid than how they behaved.  Rowan's sister bordered on OCD, I think, the compete opposite of Rowan, so I wish more was revealed about their childhoods than just the glimpses we got of older sister constantly picking up the pieces of younger sister's disasters, the younger one being Rowan.  To know what the relationship was between their parents and how this affected them would have been helpful, but not very much was revealed.  

I liked the setting of the novel, and how the story was interwoven around gruesome murders from a long time ago and more recent killings. I did expect something to come out of it though, but was left hanging at the end as the parallel stories went nowhere at this point.  As it is the start of a series, perhaps more will be revealed in future books?  I hope so as I felt a bit cheated at this and would like to know a bit more.  While I enjoyed the relationships among the characters, I still thought the mystery was the weakest point of the novel.  Too much information was revealed as the story jumped from alternating viewpoints and for long-time mystery fans, the red herring didn't work very well, and it was quite easy to figure out the murderer.  I don't usually mind alternating viewpoints, but in this novel, they didn't work very well, and I kind of skimmed through the murderer's chapters as I didn't really find them interesting and they revealed too much, giving away all the suspense to the story.

Blood Red is one of those novels where I liked certain aspects, but wasn't overly crazy about the mystery or the suspense.  I usually tend to love Wendy Corsi Staub novels, but this wasn't necessarily one of them as I thought the ending didn't really conclude all that well; the fact that this is the first novel in a series doesn't really make a difference to me as this is a mystery novel and should have some type of conclusion with the current story as we move into the next one, even if some things are left open, such as what happened to Noreen. I also thought the novel was a bit lacking in the suspense areas as the characters spent a bit too much time ruminating on their thought processes as opposed to getting on with the action and it did take away from the suspense of the novel quite a bit.  Again, I loved the bits and pieces of lore we were given about the town's past and thought that was well done, but the overall tone of the novel was undermined by the way it was written; too much information and not enough suspense.