Original Books

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blood Bayou by Karen Young

Camille St. James is passionate about her work on the Truth Project-an organization dedicated to vindicating innocent criminals on death row. The project has just gotten the attention of the public because of the acquittal of an alleged murderer from Blood Bayou, the town where he ex-husband pastors a church. But a reporter drops a bomb at the press conference, saying that this same prisoner just murdered someone not twenty-four hours after his release. That someone is her ex-sister-in-law, her ex-husband's sister. Camille is stunned as the Truth Project is temporarily shut down and she is given an extended leave of absence. She uses this leave to travel to Blood Bayou and do a little investigating of her own, because she does not believe the accused murdered her ex-sister-in-law. There she once again faced her ex-husband as they are forced to work together against the odds on this seemingly impossible case.

On the surface, this plot looks like a very typical legal plot. In some ways, it is, and in some ways, it's not. Very well-crafted, imperfect characters cause this book to be better than your average legal thriller, yet Karen Young could have been a bit more creative with her plot development.

Camille, her ex-husband Jack, Camille's father and mother, and several other characters are all very good characters, complete with personalities and imperfection. In some ways, Jack is seen as a mentor character, but he is the correct kind of mentor characters because he is only that way because he has learned from some serious mistakes he has made in his past. Camille, despite her noble efforts to acquit the innocent, is not very innocent herself. I can't think of a single perfect character, which very much helps this book stand out from its legal thriller counterparts. Without this cast of characters, this book would have been comparable to The Great Divide.

It was inevitable that Camille's prize prisoner was going to be found innocent in the end, but I wish Karen had done the opposite. The book could have been five stars had she left the beaten path of legal fiction. It was also inevitable that Jack and Camille would rediscover their lost love, and again, Karen should have done the opposite. Yet there are still a few good plot elements such as two key character deaths at the end, one being more meaningful than the other because it was based on Jack's wrong choices. At the end, the reader does not know whether another key character died or not or whether Camille became a Christian. Karen obviously knows how to write original plots, so it doesn't make any sense why she only went halfway with this one.

Nevertheless, Karen Young did enough to write an Elite book. However, in the future, I hope she goes further with her original writing and writes that five star book within.

4 stars

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