Sunday, July 14, 2024

It's the truth: Scout's honor


Pinky swear. Spit on your palms or prick your fingers, and shake hands. As a child, you had many ways to show you intended to keep a promise when you made it and your word was your bond, but you've grown up. Today, you cross your heart but, as in the new novel "Blood Sisters" by Vanessa Lillie, you hope no one has to die.

She wasn't looking for skeletal remains.

For Bureau of Indian Affairs archaeologist Syd Walker, such a find was very unusual but not unknown. Odd things happen during geological surveys on tribal lands everywhere. Still, the gruesome recovery in Rhode Island wasn't top on Syd's mind.

She'd gotten a call that her sister, Emma Lou, was missing in Oklahoma.


Fifteen years before, as Syd, Emma Lou, and Luna, who they'd considered a sister, were chilling in Luna's family's trailer, a group of men broke in. Wearing masks, the "devils" killed Luna and her parents, and the small town of Picher, was never the same.

Neither were Emma Lou or Syd.

As a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Syd was well aware of the problems near her hometown, the issues Native Americans had there with the BIA, and her own ancestors' efforts to survive on land that was given and then snatched back. She also knew the fact that she had a wife at home in Rhode Island set her apart since she'd left. And drugs — too many people on tribal allotments were getting drugs too easily.

But someone wanted Syd to come home: a female skull was found in the crook of a tree with her old work badge in its mouth. Despite knowing Syd had fled Oklahoma on purpose, her new boss at the BIA pulled strings to arrange the trip and assigned her the case.

Years ago, Syd had promised to protect Luna and Emma Lou.

One of them was already dead. The other was missing.

Was the skull a threat — or a warning?

Here is the best advice you're going to get when you grab "Blood Sisters": pay close attention to the minutiae. Without being a spoiler, little things mean a lot.

Unless you watch carefully, you'll be cruising along at 200 miles an hour in a screaming run through pages and pages of barely-bearable excitement when suddenly, your brain will make that scratchy sound like a stopped record album. It's there where author Vanessa Lillie drops three tons of TNT, right toward the almost-end of her story and whoa, Nelly. If you're not paying attention, you may have to read the chapter multiple times to cut your "What the....?" down to a manageable level.

Yeah, this is that kind of book, the kind that's written with authenticity, an insider's feel, and heightened tension that'll keep you awake. The kind you think you know how it'll end and you're wrong. For mystery lovers or thriller fans, "Blood Sisters" is the kind of book you should scout out.

"Blood Sisters" by Vanessa Lillie

c.2023, Berkley                                                           $27.00                                        384 pages