||The Review of: Blood Memory
by Desmond McNally
On the first page of Blood Memory the author cleverly announces, "so we begin in the middle", an artful device, which stirs anticipation for what might follow. Greg Iles, author of seven New York Times best sellers, is a proven master at drawing readers in from the outset. We are immediately told about a series of four murders of men whose ages range between 42 and 69. Each body is strangely mutilated by bite marks on various parts of their bodies.
Enter Catherine (Cat) Ferry, whose initial description caused me a moment of unease. Does any of this sound familiar? We're presented with a female investigator whose specialty is forensics. She is an alcoholic, and has a boyfriend of Irish descent-a lot like Kathy Reich's heroine, Tempe Brennan, don't you think? I quickly discovered, however, that the similarities ended there. Ile's protagonist, "Cat", an Odontologist who is a clever but seriously flawed individual, elicits both sympathy and admiration. At the scene of the fourth crime she suffers a panic attack and passes out. Knowing she is pregnant and the would-be father is her married beau, police detective Sean Regan, Cat assumes that her delicate condition is the reason for these attacks and fainting spells.
She is removed from the case and returns home to Natchez. At the antebellum estate owned by her grandfather, she hopes for some rest and relaxation. It was at this estate, twenty-three years ago, that Cat's father had been shot and killed by an unknown person, hardly the ideal place to try to come to terms with her current problems. Predictably, Cat can't escape other frightening occurrences. When Luminol from her forensic kit is accidentally spilled on the carpet of her childhood bedroom, two bloody footprints are exposed. She considers whether these could be connected to her father's murder and whether they could somehow be connected to her nightmares since his death.
When Sean informs Cat that a fifth murder resembling the earlier ones has taken place, she returns to New Orleans and is persuaded by the FBI to wear a wire while talking to Nathan Malik. Malik, a psychiatrist, has become a suspect in the murder case, but Cat is intrigued by Malik; she senses that they might have met somewhere in the past. Their relationship, with its hint of a mysterious connection, is developed to the books' finale and it serves as a critical element in the resolution of this compelling story.
Back at Natchez, Cat is confronted by more sinister truths. An attempt on her life ushers in a number of interesting characters, all of whom play significant parts in Ile's revelation at the conclusion of this imaginative, intelligent and suspenseful psychological novel.
It is to Ile's credit that the novel's tension and pace continues to its culmination, and that the evidence, clues and hints he introduces actually bear scrutiny rather than serving as mere props for his convenience. This is a satisfying read, masterfully written and never boring.