One Drop of Blood

Thomas Holland

I really did want to like this book. "Kel" McKelvey is a forensic scientist for the Army's Central Identification Laboratory, the agency in charge of finding and identifying American's fallen servicemen from past wars. That's pretty interesting, but this novel is set in Arkansas. Old bones, yes, but whose? Alas, I can't recommend this book. McKelvey and his "partner", FBI agent Michael Levine seem to be a bit on the slow side when it comes to solving mysteries. I had pieced together most of 'mystery' by about page 100 of the 300+ page book. The heroes themselves never completely discovered the truth, in fact agent Levine was very far off. The truth was revealed by one of the characters in the novel in painstaking detail near the end of the book. I am not a big fan of those 'Agatha Christie' type endings where the 'bad guy' or the detective reveals everything at the end. Maybe I have read too many of the mystery genre to be surprised by such endings, but this one seemed pretty obvious to me.

And then there is the length of the novel. It should have been about 60,000 words, 180 paperback pages or so. Instead it was more than 300 hardback pages. Detail everywhere. For example, Levine and McKelvey stayed in a 1950's type motel in a small Arkansas town. They ate every meal in the diner across the street. Nothing about the diner had anything to do with the story, other than the fact the two men discuss the case there. But -- we learn what they ate. We learn about every person that works in the diner and even how many hours they work each day. By the end of the book we know their schedule and we know the diner's menu. We also get to know some of the regular customers. These are not named, for the most part, just commented on, and on and on. We learn about southern manners, small town police forces, small town politics, what grows (or doesn't grow) in eastern Arkansas, and much more than we want to know - or care to know.

This is the first in a series. I will not be reading the next book.