Trail of Blood by Lisa Black (William Morrow; $24.99; 400 pages)
Who knew that Cleveland, Ohio could be so interesting? Lisa Black, a member of the National Academy of Forensic Sciences, proves that there’s more to Cleveland than the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Her third Theresa MacLean book is not only set in this Midwestern city, it features some really gory murders that are based in fact. Black’s main character is a forensic scientist who happens to belong to a family with a history of crime fighting all the way back to her grandfather.
When present day murders bear a striking similarity to Cleveland’s most horrific killing spree during the 1930s and 40s, the city police and coroner’s offices are summoned to cut short the present day nightmare. Theresa and her cop cousin Frank are at the center of the action. Yes, Theresa takes more than her share of risks; however, she also uses her instincts to get out of peril. There are plenty of false leads and hints to keep the reader guessing right up to the end of the book.
There are several other mystery/thriller series written by expert authors that feature main characters with similar talents. The most notable of these is the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. Black unfolds Trail of Blood as a more personal story with less ostentatious criminology and more good-old-fashioned shoe leather detecting than does Cornwell. In addition, the story is actually told in two time frames, current day and 75 years ago.
Black is excellent at keeping it real. The mix of accurate historic details, a map up front in the beginning of the book and a detailed timeline of the original murders set this book apart from the rest of the pack.
Well recommended to fans of thriller novels that actually have more than gore to offer.