Blood Relations by Lonna Enox

Publisher: Wasteland Press (2014)
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In a tangled web of mystery and lies, the truth can only be discovered, if the seeker can survive. Often working out a mystery and following the clues can lead to danger. Unfortunately, sometimes the answers found may not be the ones sought after.

Blood Relations is the second book in this cozy mystery series set in the contemporary Southwest. Not only will readers be intrigued throughout the story, they will enjoy the vivid descriptions of a wild bird refuge, the rugged beauty of the Southwest, along with the visuals of the quaint small towns and their local personalities that the mystery revolves around.

Sorrel, a retired investigative journalist, is simply seeking peace after the brutal murder of her husband. She opened a small gift shop out of her home in Saddle Gap, with a close girlfriend, Teri, who handles the daily operations. This allows Sorrel to pursue her passion, photography, especially wildlife photography. She is mentored by her friend, John, also a professional wildlife photographer.

It was on one of John and Sorrel’s trips that this mystery starts. Sorrel arrives at the Annual Crane Festival in Socorro, New Mexico as she and John had planned.  The morning starts with some amazing views of the wintering birds, as well as a striking sunrise. When John fails to show up, and she is instead greeted by Chris Reed, a Saddle Gap detective, Sorrel fears the worst.

Sorrel is determined to figure out what has happened to John. She feels that he is in trouble, and she will not stop searching until she gets some answers. Reed and Sorrel start to investigate John’s disappearance. Along the way they encounter many strange things that, at that point, don’t seem to make any sense: a dead body of an unidentified man, strange papers, phone messages from John’s attorney, and strange coded messages left in various places.

Sorrel and Reed’s search propels them into harm’s way, where  they find themselves terrorized and in situations that require tenacity, survival skills, and teamwork. When these experiences cause Sorrel to question the people and events in her life, she learns of a deception that will change her life forever.

Sorrel and Reed have a feisty friendship that teeters on becoming more. She dodges his romantic flirtations with her sassy comments, exerting her independence. Undaunted, Detective Reed is more intrigued by her and her secretive past.

Not many books leave me with the urge to immediately re-read them, but Blood Relations most certainly did. The subtlety of the details and clues written throughout the mystery surfaced only after I finished reading. It is an amazing talent for an author to leave you wanting to re-read her novel. And this well-written and entertaining book made me do so. I then went on to read book one, The Last Dance, which was awarded the Best Debut Mystery in the CLUE Awards. I was not disappointed. This reviewer is looking forward to reading the next book in this captivating and engaging contemporary Southwestern mystery series by Lonna Enox.