Monday, October 30, 2023

Blood Sisters by Vanessa Lillie

First Line: A devil kicks in the front door, but he's holding a pistol instead of a pitchfork.
Oklahoma native Syd Walker is an archaeologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs working in Rhode Island to protect the land's indigenous past. She's also trying to escape a personal nightmare in her past. However, when a skull is found near the fifteen-year-old crime scene in Oklahoma and her sister, Emma Lou, vanishes, Syd knows she must return home. Many, many indigenous women have gone missing over the years, and Syd is determined that her sister is not going to be one of them, even if it means confronting her demons.
Once home, Syd soon learns that not everyone is happy to have her back, but as she hunts for her sister and for clues to the identity of the person whose skull was found, she uncovers a string of cases involving missing indigenous women that goes back decades. To save her sister, Syd will have to unmask a killer.
In Blood Sisters, Vanessa Lillie has crafted a compelling story rooted in the ongoing tragedy of missing indigenous women that's led by an emotionally fragile, flawed heroine.  Her Oklahoma setting-- an area wrecked by endless mining for every scrap of mineral wealth it contains-- is atmospheric and unsettling. It is a land that has tainted the lives of everyone who lives there.

The search for the person responsible for these missing indigenous women is fast-paced and grabs a reader's attention, and the history of the Bureau of Indian Affairs that the author weaves into the story adds depth and understanding to the behavior of the residents, but the main focus of the entire book is Syd Walker, who as a young girl survived a murderous night and has been running away from it ever since.

I liked the fact that archaeologist Syd Walker has focused her career on indigenous history and that she works hard to support projects that make a brighter future possible for Native people. Her Cherokee heritage and her experiences in Oklahoma have shown her how important this is. However, I could never warm up to Syd, perhaps because she's too flawed. Her survivor's guilt is crippling. Her emotions are raw and conflicted. She can't understand why her family doesn't welcome her back with open arms. (She escaped all the gossipmongers while her family has had to live with them and their pointing fingers and whispers for the past fifteen years.) Her wife back in Rhode Island is pregnant, and Syd spends a great deal of time worrying about whether or not she's fit to be a parent. She also doesn't pay attention to good advice and tends to shoot off her mouth and run off half-cocked. Characters who put themselves in danger repeatedly aren't among my favorites. To put it mildly, her angst just wore me out.

If insecure, guilt-riddled main characters are your cup of tea, you should enjoy Blood Sisters. I did enjoy the story, but I do have to admit that I wanted to make Syd stay in her room most of the time while I did my own investigating.

Blood Sisters by Vanessa Lillie
eISBN: 9780593550120
Berkley © 2023
eBook, 384 pages
Thriller, Standalone
Rating: C+
Source: Net Galley


  1. Honestly, Cathy, Syd didn't overly appeal to me, either, just from your description. Still, the tragedy of missing Indigenous women is compelling, and I'm glad there are those paying attention to it. The settings appeal, too.

    1. I was disappointed with Syd because there really is a lot to like about this book; however, when you're a character-driven reader and the main character is working your last nerve...

  2. Hmm. The setting and mystery definitely appeal, but I know I'm likely to have a similar reaction to the protagonist. This one will have to wait to be a serendipitous pick at the library at some point.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!