cover image In the Blood

In the Blood

Lisa Unger, read by Gretchen Mol and Candace Thaxon. Simon & Schuster Audio, unabridged, nine CDs, 10.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-4423-6143-0

This novel, full of dark psychological suspense, is set in a small college town not far from New York City; it follows Lana Granger, a psychology major nearing graduation. Lana harbors secrets from her youth, including family violence and murder. At the suggestion of faculty advisor Langdon Hewes, she becomes the nanny of Luke, a troubled 11-year-old who uses very adult methods of terrorizing his mother, Rachel. Soon he’s tormenting Lana with seemingly uncanny knowledge of her past. The narrative is interspersed with excerpts from the diary of an unidentified mother about her life with an extremely disturbed child, which is read by Mol in a soft voice that varies from guardedly optimistic to despondent. Handling the more extensive role of Lana, Thaxon is tart, almost flippant when the extremely bright student is viewing her life objectively, then switches to a less confident, almost miserable approach when expressing self-doubt and regret over past mistakes. Her equally astute interpretations of Unger’s other characters include a coolly impersonal Hewes, a vague and distracted Rachel, and Luke, who speaks with an intelligence beyond his years, is arrogant and impatient. A S&S/Touchstone hardcover. (Jan.)