Beyond Blood is a fast-paced, intriguing crime fiction novel. As Dana Bowman is opening the home-based "Attic Investigative Agency" with her brother Bast, mystery and intrigue invades her own life. A break and enter at her house and a kidnapping at the mini-mall, which peripherally involves her son's babysitter Debbie Sangwell, starts the intrigue. The grand opening of her agency is then overshadowed by the kidnapping of her son David and the murder of Debbie.
More kidnappings, murders, fraud and abortion up the odds on the mystery. Debbie and Bast navigate rocky relations with police Detective Donald Fielding and TV reporter Charles Haas as they try desperately to locate David. Secondary characters Great Aunt Doris, mall merchants Lois and Ray Chalmers and Dana's ex Ronald further complicate the investigation and the fragile family relationships involved.
All of this takes place in the course of one week. All in all, a fast-moving whodunit that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Sharon Crawford's latest novel Beyond Blood is a story of murder, kidnapping, fraud, and abortion with a varied cast of characters led by an undercover security guard at Toronto's Thurston Mini-Mall, Dana Bowman. To call this book a simple murder mystery would not initiate an expectation of this plot's complexity. When Dana plans to start the Attic Investigative Agency in August of 1998 with her fraternal twin, Bast Overture (a former crime reporter), a series of events unfold which begin with a mall kidnapping, two others having occurred recently at other malls in Toronto, and the abduction of Dana's son David at the agency's opening ceremony. David's babysitter Debbie Sangwell is found lifeless with a knife in her back. Dana leaves her job at the mall to work with police detectives Harker and Fielding and investigate the murder, as well as a seemingly unrelated string of burglaries, and in the process to find her son.
Frustrating and complicating her search are the Mini-Mall merchants Lois and Ray Chalmers, Dana's ex-husband Ronald, her ex-lover Gordon Lambton, and her Great Aunt Doris. The loss of two of her friends and her aunt also cause difficulties as Dana continues to seek to elucidate the reason for all of the apparently unconnected events occurring around her. A television reporter, Charles Haas, is ever-present and confronts Dana and Bast about the burglaries and kidnappings. There are ransom demands made by the kidnappers as enquiries into a past hit-and-run become important.
As she progresses in her increasingly emotional exploration for answers to her son's whereabouts, her past job becomes significant and illuminates information she would not have otherwise obtained. As Bast knew, 'Dana was the one who wore her emotions on her sleeve. He was the twin who held it in.' This is shown throughout the novel and becomes central during confrontations both on land and, toward the end of the novel, on the water at Snow Lake Harbour.
The novel is told with the alternating first person viewpoint of Dana, and the third person stories of Bast, David, and the mysterious 'him' produce a complex weaving of interrelationships that enriches the world these characters populate. While I do not normally read this genre, I would recommend this novel to both seasoned mystery readers and novices alike.