The Weight of Blood

8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780553546033. $50; digital download. F
OrangeReviewStarThe Dane family is a staple of the community of Henbane, MO, deep in the Ozark Mountains. When one of her best friends is found murdered and displayed in a tree, 16-year-old Lucy Dane feels compelled to ask questions about not only this tragedy but also the disappearance of her mother 15 years earlier. The slow unfolding of secrets surrounding these two "lost girls" sets in motion the unraveling of family ties and revelations of the unsavory side of life in the small town. This gripping novel employs varying points of view beginning with first-person accounts from Lucy in the present and Lucy's mother, Lila, in the past. Third-person accounts from the perspective of other characters—both heroic and villainous—are interspersed periodically. With subtle Southern inflections and varied pacing, narrators Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Shannon McManus, and Sofia Willingham bring life to the characters, prepare listeners for the frequent changes in viewpoint, and provide listeners with the opportunities to judge these individuals based on their actions and thoughts and others' reactions to them. Though unconventional in structure, this first novel is an admirable contribution to the literary crime genre.
VERDICT This audiobook will be well received by sophisticated listeners who appreciate delving into the psychologies of families and communities. ["(McHugh's) prose will not only keep readers turning the pages but also paints a real and believable portrait of the connections, alliances, and sacrifices that underpin rural, small-town life," read the starred review of the Spiegel & Grau hc, LJ 11/1/13.]

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