In Blood Knot by S.W. Hubbard, Frank Bennett has gotten settled in as police chief of Trout Run, NY in the Adirondacks. The town is abuzz with news of the North Country Academy, a new school for troubled teens that is offering well- paying jobs to the community, but Bennett has reservations about so many juvenile delinquents in his town. Then he gets called to the scene where a bear mauled a teacher on a camping trip, killing him. It already seems unusual for this natural woodsman to have been killed, but then the forest agents discover bacon grease all over the teacher’s sleeping bag, greace’s being an item used to lure bears illegally in hunting them. Did someone commit murder?
Then, Frank gets further intimations that the Academy may be involved in abusive situations of both neglect and active mistreatment of students in the attempt to reform them. Yet even when a girl suspiciously disappears from the isolation room, with blood all that is found in the room, the head of the Academy is more concerned with covering things up than in finding the girl or the other student and employee who have disappeared as well. Frank must work to get to the truth despite the obfuscations of the leader of the Academy, who has a past he is eager to keep secret in addition to his present.
I really enjoyed getting to listen to Blood Knotan excellent sequel to The Lure, both books having strong mysteries with a folksy feel to them. I appreciated the philosophical challenges faced by Frank and others in the community, as they are forced to address the question of how far is too far in trying to reform youth who have already committed minor offenses and are on their way to a lifetime of crime if something doesn’t intervene in their lives. We face the struggle with Frank in deciding where to draw the line in trying to wake up such youth to their serious behavior. The mystery gets tied directly to these questions, as the director of the Academy thinks he is being sabotaged by a disgruntled employee.
Danny Campbell performs the audio edition of this book and adds to the flavor of the book as not exactly backwoods, but certainly not citified. With a slightly gruff voice, Campbell makes the book a delight to listen to. When he describes the treatment of youth by the North Country Academy, we join with the young people in feeling their fear and pain, not to mention desperation to get away from the Academy. As we connect with the people of Trout Run through Campbell’s vision, we strongly come to connect with their community.
I had a really good experience listening to Blood Knot and appreciated the way this book made me think about genuine issues of society besides getting to enjoy a well- written mystery. The book contains a strong writing style, making me believe that Hubbard must be an excellent composition and creative writing instructor in addition to her public position of author. I loved the book and give it five stars!
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.