(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In a brilliant follow-up to his medical thriller Double Helix (1995), Sigmund Brouwer creates in Blood Ties a world where physical evil lurks around every corner and where metaphysical evil confronts the good in the small town of Kalispell, Montana. In 1973, Clay Garner, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is called to Kalispell to investigate a suspicious train derailment on property that abuts the federal reservation land where Native American George Samson lives. When George’s granddaughter, Doris, is found dead in a local hotel, Clay’s assignment takes on new dimensions. Although the local sheriff, Russ Fowler, ridicules Clay and his urban training, he reluctantly allows Clay to work on the case after Clay threatens to report Fowler for obstruction of justice. Clay believes the clues that he finds at Doris’s murder scene—especially an eagle feather that the murderer has left as a calling card—indicate that a serial killer may be at work in the community.

Meanwhile, Kelsie McNeill has troubles of her own. The daughter of one of the town’s wealthiest ranchers, she is headstrong and beautiful, especially as the 1973 teenager first presented to the reader. She has a crush on Nick Buffalo, one of her father’s ranch hands, but someone else is watching and pining for Kelsie from afar. This stalker leaves Kelsie notes about his love for her, and an eagle feather accompanies each note. Sheriff Fowler is no more help to Kelsie than he is in finding Doris Samson’s murderer, so Clay and Kelsie’s father, along with some other men in the town, set a trap to try to catch the stalker, who is called the Watcher. During this botched attempt, the Watcher shoots and wounds...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Carrigan, Henry L., Jr. “Blood Ties.” Library Journal 121, no. 14 (September 1, 1996): 163. In this positive book review, Carrigan compares Brouwer’s novel to John Grisham’s thrillers and points out Brouwer’s brilliant storytelling skills.

Mort, John. “Blood Ties.” Booklist 93, no. 1 (September 1, 1996): 65. In this generally positive book review, Mort points out that Brouwer effectively uses suspense to capture his readers and to produce an unusual Christian novel.

Schriefer, Kirk. “Mystery Novel Disappoints.” M.B. Herald 36, no. 14 (July 18, 1997). In his mostly negative book review, Schriefer observes that Blood Ties lacks sufficient suspense and mystery to be an effective thriller.