Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong is the first in her Julie Collins detective series and its a damn good one! Rounding out at about just 373 pages, I found myself deeply engaged in the book and surprisingly, it’s not due to the mystery plot line! The character of Julie Collins is very interesting and one that I can find myself reading every now and then when I’m bored with other types of books. “Julie Collins is stuck in a dead-end secretarial job with the Bear Butte County Sheriff’s office, and still grieving over the unsolved murder of her Lakota half-brother. Lack of public interest in finding his murderer, or the killer of several other transient Native American men, has left Julie with a bone-deep cynicism she counters with tequila, cigarettes, and dangerous men. The one bright spot in her mundane life is the time she spends working part-time as a PI with her childhood friend, Kevin Wells. When the body of a sixteen-year old white girl is discovered in nearby Rapid Creek, Julie believes this victim will receive the attention others were denied.”
The actual mystery in Blood Ties in my honest opinion was not all that interesting. You have a dead little girl and the main characters are trying their hardest to figure out who done it. The saving grace of Blood Ties is the introduction of Julie Collins as the “apprentice” private investigator to Kevin Wells. You see, Julie is not one of those typical goody good girls who say the right things at the right time and mind their manner. Julie is a 34 year old blonde who likes to drink a lot of beers, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and likes to have sex a whole lot. She is witty, has a loud mouth, thinks herself as “hardcore” and doesn’t mind getting into trouble to get the information she wants. However, she also has a soft side and it’s hilarious reading about her battling the emotions inside her head. Some readers might find her to be too obscene and whatnot but I enjoy it so much and I hope she doesn’t change at all!
The writing in Blood Ties is easy to read and follow. I find myself liking the author a lot because she doesn’t have a style of writing that irritates me. The book is very comfortable to read, if not simple. I find myself laughing time and time again whenever Julie thinks of witty comments in her head. She’s one of those girls whose guaranteed to be someone you know of personally. She portrays the tough, loud mouth chick on the outside and as if nothing can scare her but in reality, she’s just as scared and afraid of the thing called loneliness as everyone else.
Throughout the book, you’re trying to guess who killed little Samantha. Her dad? The sneezy lawyer? A reverend? It’s your typical cliche type of mystery book and although you can take a stab at the killer, you’ll probably be wrong in the end. The one thing I don’t like about these mystery endings is that yes, although no one could have seen or guessed the killer, the author left us no choice because she herself doesn’t get into the details of it throughout the book and just throws it in our face in the end. I consider that somewhat cheating because although the explanation makes sense, the author doesn’t give enough clues or hints as to having that possible outcome in the book. Me personally, I can’t consider that your classic mystery “shocker” at all.
In the end, Blood Ties is a fantastic time killer of a mystery book. Not too long and not too short. The mystery part itself is lacking but the character of Julie Collins should keep you entertained. Unless of course, you don’t dig her sort of character and if you don’t, then I recommend you to stop reading immediately because Julie will be in your face throughout the book. The good thing is you won’t be missing anything special here story wise so do skip the book without any guilt. I’m hoping the second book in the Julie Collin series incorporates a much more interesting mystery plot line and ending because the author definitely got the character locked down. All she needs from my viewpoint is a better mystery plot.