cover image Spilled Blood

Spilled Blood

Brian Freeman. Sterling/Silver Oak, $24.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-4027-9812-2

Two small Minnesota towns, St. Croix and Barron, are divided by a river, literally and figuratively, that turns them into warring camps in this harrowing, melodramatic stand-alone from Freeman (The Bone House). Barron, the home of Florian Steele’s company, Mondamin Research, has flourished, while St. Croix has withered. The death of five St. Croix teens from leukemia resulted in a lawsuit that absolved Mondamin from blame. Late one night, drunken 16-year-old Olivia Hawk, whose best friend was one of the leukemia victims, confronts Florian’s 17-year-old daughter, Ashlynn, on a lonely road outside St. Croix. Ashlynn’s subsequent murder, with which Olivia is charged, threatens to trigger more violence. A mystery man calling himself Aquarius who promises retribution, a vicious thug who keeps things stirred up, and a missing Mondamin scientist each play key roles. Freeman ratchets up the suspense steadily, and then provides a cataclysmic ending that wraps things up almost too neatly. 10-city author tour. Deborah Schneider: Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents. (May)