by Ralph McInerny
Category: Fiction / Mystery
0 pages; ISBN: 031233690X
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
St. Martin’s, Jul 2005, $24.95
Sheila and George Lynch were depressed because they could not have children of their own until they adopt a little girl after meeting the mother, Northwestern student Madeline, abandoned by her boyfriend. Madeline gives birth to Martha, who is raised by the Lynches with love. Over two decades later Martha works in the Loop as a paralegal at Foley, Farnum and Casey when Bernard Casey, the son of a senior partner, falls in love with her and asks her to marry him.
At the same time Martha considers the proposal, her biological father Nathaniel Fleck returns into Madeline's life wanting to meet his daughter. Madeline fears her indiscretion will destroy her happy marriage. However, Fleck dies in a hit and run at the same time that Martha, over the trepidation of the loving Lynch couple, seeks her biological parents so her future blueblood in-laws will know exactly the color of her blood. She starts with Father Dowling and lawyer Amos Cadbury, who already knows the identity of the mother but feels trapped in a moral dilemma while Fleck’s death comes under suspicion.
The story line is at its best in the first half as several individuals struggle with what is right in areas that are so gray that no sound bite response will work. Father Dowling, Cadbury, Madeline, Lynchs, and Nathaniel internalize what is morally the correct thing because what is right for one person could harm another. When the homicide and subsequent investigation takes over, BLOOD TIES remains a fine who-done-it, but loses some of the strength of characters facing a complex dilemma. In his letter X appearance, Father Dowling starts with an interesting morality play that turns into a solid murder mystery.
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