A Book Spy Review: ‘A Blood Thing’ by James Hankins

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A Blood ThingAndrew Kane is used to busy, chaotic days — that’s just part of life when you’re the sitting governor of the great state of Vermont. With the grand opening of a new senior citizen center on the docket, Cross heads out for a public meet and greet, which starts off normal enough until a stranger slips him a cell phone before whispering, “Keep that phone with you at all times, Governor. And keep it secret. You’re going to need it after the arrest.”

Before Kane can ask any questions, the stranger disappears into the crowd. Confusion hangs over the governor, who, as soon as he has the chance, calls his brother Henry, who works in Internal Affairs. Just as they begin investigating the stranger and the mysterious cell phone, their younger sister, Molly, calls to express her concerns about Tyler, her twin brother who was left mentally challenged after a childhood accident. Now twenty-nine-years-old, Tyler is a child in a man’s body who relies heavily on his sister and their big brothers to care for him. With Andrew busy running the state, Henry agrees to head over to Molly’s in order to help track down Tyler, who is missing. 

When Tyler does finally return home, he’s not alone. The police arrive with an arrest warrant and cuff Tyler on the spot for allegedly murdering a local woman named Sally. All of the Kane siblings know their brother is innocent and being framed, but who would possibly set him up for murder. . . and why? 

Before Henry can find answers to those questions, Andrew gets a call on the burner phone given to him by the stranger. The voice on the other end of the line demands the governor either pardon a convicted felon or watch his little brother go down for killing a woman in cold blood. Letting Tyler take the fall is a non-starter for Andrew, who chooses to risk his integrity in order to protect his special needs brother. Hoping it’s a one-and-done situation, Andrew complies with the demands, only to discover that the caller was just getting started. Soon, he’s sucked into a dangerous game of blackmail and deceit as he finds himself being pulled deeper and deeper into a sinister plot.

As the story heats up, Hankins’ plot begs the question. . . how far would you go to protect someone you love if you knew they were innocent? 

While a little light on action, Hankins’ latest offering is big on suspense. Though Andrew and Tyler are the focal points for most of the story, the book is really about the Kane family as a whole and what they’re willing to do in order to protect one of their own. That’s a premise most readers can relate to, even if they aren’t part of a powerful family with a great lineage like the Kanes, who’ve long held high positions in local and federal government. Hankins does a fine job developing his cast as the story unfolds, and the plot’s many moving parts are all brought together and tied up nicely with a nail-biting final act. 

The setup here isn’t all that different from Brad Parks’ critically acclaimed Say Nothing (2017), and like Parks’ thriller, James Hankins’ A Blood Thing is the type of page-turner that you’ll want to tell everyone you know about as soon as you turn the final page. 

Book Details

Author: James Hankins
Pages: 397 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1503950166
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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