Thicker Than Blood

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Rachel Chavez lives in her own parking garage in Los Angeles, working hard to get by financially and to escape the alcoholism which plagues her. When a water agency executive is killed by a hit-and-run driver, Rachel suspects that the vehicle may be in her garage. Then one of her employees is killed also, and Rachel decides to investigate what she thinks may be related deaths. She is promptly dragged into a morass of treachery and intrigue centered on water politics. Her attempts to get at the truth are followed by another murder and some deadly danger for Rachel herself.

The character of Rachel Chavez is persuasive, and a new kind of detective—garage- owner—joining the detective fiction ranks populated mostly by private investigators, police, forensic specialists, academics, and the like. The dialogue is snappy and clever. The book promises to be the first of a new series.

Thicker Than Blood is a quick read, somewhere between mystery and thriller. The number of action scenes and the shift from one to another may strain the reader's credibility. The cover describes the book as “a fast-moving contemporary noir tale,” but in fact the novel is not noir, not even gris. Despite the perhaps excessive action, it is close to cozy in tone.

This novel has an interesting and original premise, but it is for those who like their mysteries riddled with gunshots and hairs-breadth escapes rather than characterized by reason and reflection. Nevertheless, the book is eminently readable and the conclusion does provide satisfaction. Added interest comes from the inside view the novel provides of California water politics and their possible results.