What Jay Casio is starting in James LePore’s Blood of My Brother is an investigation into to the murder of his best friend since childhood, Dan Del Colliano. And start with a vengeance he does.
Jay’s and Dan’s friendship was forged under fire during the turbulent race riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey when, barely school age, they were caught up in the violence that erupted in their formerly peaceful neighborhood.
As they grew so did their bond, strengthening ever deeper as they weathered through tragedies such as the death of Jay’s parents in a plane crash. By the time they are adults, Jay a successful attorney and Dan a not so successful private investigator, the two have come to think of each other as brothers, through their common bond if not blood.
When a woman Jay is representing in a divorce is killed, beheaded, her high-powered soon to be ex-husband is the number one suspect… until he too is found dead. The discovery of Dan’s brutally tortured and murdered body in Miami a short time later initially seems like a case of coincidental bad timing. But when the FBI shows up and indicates Jay should stop asking questions it becomes clear to him that something more sinister is going on, something he’s determined to get to the bottom of.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Mexico, Isabel Perez is leading her own double-edged life of triumph and tragedy. An orphan herself, Isabel was taken in at the age of fourteen by an “Uncle” who had anything but her best interests at heart. Quickly she is introduced to a world where she is used as the sexual consort and unintentional confidant for high powered criminals and crooked officials. Though she is provided with fine clothes, a fancy car, and nice place to live, she knows her life is not her’s to live on her terms, and never will be.
Further, her intimate association with such powerful individuals exposes her to information she eventually realizes places her in the position of knowing too much, making her a liability. When an assignment from her “Uncle” that she well suspects may be her last sends her to Miami, her path crosses with that of Jay, there investigating Dan’s murder, and the stage is set for an electrifying alliance and an explosive race to uncover the true circumstances of Dan’s death and expose the crime and corruption in which Isabel is caught up.
Blood of My Brother is billed as a suspense novel, and while there are certainly suspenseful aspects to it I believe it also has a very healthy dose of thriller living between the covers. The story takes place in locales such as Mexico City and Miami, involves corruption and cartels, and includes more than a few action packed sequences and shootouts, giving it a decidedly thriller feel.
Carefully worked into the action, however, is the exploration of the human element at the heart of the story: the fierce bond formed between Jay and Dan; how their childhood molded them into the men they became; how the choices they made as adults led them down different paths, with very different consequences, despite their common background; and, how people respond under dire situations when forced to make life-changing decisions.
It’s the action that keeps you turning the pages, but it’s the bigger issues LePore works into the story that will keep you thinking even after you’ve finished. Blood of My Brother will be released on December 28th, so go ahead and earmark some of that Christmas money Santa brings you for this one.
Blood of My Brother is available from The Story Plant (ISBN: 978-0981956886).