Blood Ties: Nicholas Guild
Within this novel the reader will come to understand the hidden fears that one young man has harbored within himself since age 12. Imagine living in fear of a parent and wondering at times if your parent was going to abandon you or worse. Wondering where your next meal was coming from, having to fend for yourself because your father was off on binges and your mother, you were told left you can often scar a young child or turn him into someone cold and heartless. As you learn more about the killer within this book, his craft, as he might refer it to, murder by torture, carving up his victims and making them feel every slit inflicted upon them, you will hear him speak, understand his rationale and pray that he’s caught before the body count rises even further. Blood Ties is a frightening novel that deals with the relationships between three people: A grandfather, father and son. As one’s destruction and hate and malice leads or infiltrates the mind of the next in line what you learn about the son, our main character is quite different than what you will understand and comprehend about his heartless and mean grandfather and demonic and murderous father. This is a story of a young man who at age 12 found a dead body in his father’s car in his garage and had to weigh the evidence right then and there and realized that his path and his journey in life had to change. Finding a suitcase with some clothes, his mother’s wedding ring and her old driver’s license, set this young man on a quest to learn more and realizing the only way he would survive is to run and run fast for his life. Finding the license allowed him to have a start and at the end of his long journey he found the address on the license and the two amazing and caring people who would guide him, nurture him, make sure he was educated and cared for. Seven years this young man felt safe and loved. Then, one day he went out with his friends after school and came home to find the two people he loved most in the world killed. Once again he knew he had to run but this time he went to the police. Reflecting on what happened when he was 12 he realized that things might have been different had he reported the murder back then but he was not sure if anyone would have believed him. Running from his father is what he has done and working for the Navy because of his ability to hack into websites, financial facilities, banks, governments, computers, and anything that possessed any information this young man became an asset to the Navy from the moment he lied about his age and enlisted until the present. Hiding from his father, hoping never to be found until something happens and more murders and deaths occur and one homicide detective named Ellen Ridley tracks him down, as the SFPD begins tracking and tracing a serial killer who just happens to be the father of this young man.
While Homicide Detective Ellen Ridley attempts to track down this serial killer who is taking the lives of women at whim and chopping them up to teach them a lesson he thinks they need to be taught, another is caught in this web of lies and deceit and finds his way into Ellen’s life. Stephen Tregear is a hacker and code breaker working for Naval Intelligence. While checking out the photos of a recent murder Ellen flashes on the face of this young man and both she and Sam decide he just might be a person of interest. As the evidence appears and Treagear sets his sites on learning more about the case, Ellen and Sam find their way to his door and the end result would not be what they expect.
As Ellen begins to understand Steve and they form a bond he opens up to her explaining his past, how he came across the body of a woman at age 12, the fact that he ran for his life and how and why he became part of the intelligence force in the Navy. Practically told he cannot leave and would have to reenlist, Steve became embroiled in their lair and could not find a way to leave. But, being smart, savvy and indispensable he was able to often turn the tables in his direction as we learn about what happened to his mother, the many killed and the fact that the murderer was his father. How do you deal with the fact that your father has been toying with your life, always trying to find you because he feared what you might do and you? While coming to terms with some of what happened he reveals to Ellen about the murder of Army Corporal Jo Ann Rudd, another Grace Newcomb and many others which he feels guilty for and blames the fact that he did not come clean and go to the police at age 12. With no way to know his real name and his father calling himself Walter Rayne among other names he chose, Steve chose Tregear. Forced to move even when he felt safe where he was, Steve had to follow suit when the Navy told him he had no choice but to move.
But, Ellen is smart, astute and finds a way to get evidence that she thinks no one will ever learn about but Steve is one man that cannot be fooled. As she enters his bathroom she collects what she wants and with the help of her father and his contacts learns some interesting hidden truths that would change the direction and complexion of the case. As we get to learn more about her she appears to be all work, not very emotional and definitely haunted by things that happened in the past. But, Ellen learns that not everyone accepts who and what she is and although her parents, primarily her mother, refuses to accept her vocation and her choice of male companions, she stands tall and by her own convictions. Allowing herself to get to know Steve something clicks between them but first she and Sam learn more about his father, why he fears him and the fact that Walter is about to get sloppy on purpose. Murders with no clues, no DNA and no fingerprints become filled with all of the above as Walter tries to draw Steve into his life, his lair and hopefully a grave.
Ellen is smart and Steve presents her with a flash drive of his father’s life and murders, where he thinks he might be and much more. As she goes through each and every file, learns about his work schedules and finds a lead that just might surprise everyone. Learning about where he might have worked, women that he lured into his bed and others who would lie and cheat for me because he made them feel wanted and not alone, Walter……. Was elusive, clever and smart until he was not. Working in restaurants, as a repairman, choosing his victims carefully, Sally Wilkes and Harriet Murdoch were only two who fell prey to his wiles. The right bar, the right opening line and the right incentive and he was in. Harriet thought he was a widower to a point that was true. She was divorced and was searching for someone to be in her life and Walter seemed the right man.
What Ellen learns from a DNA expert is the connection between the killer and Steve. She takes what she learns to Sam. But, Ellen is methodical, smart and even more technologically oriented than her senior partner and the blend between them and even the slight friction is what makes them gel. But, Ellen finds herself caught between solving the case, her feelings for Steve, having her friend Mindy living with her for a short time and her parent’s reaction to the entire situation.
Walter justifies the deaths as taken like “ just like God.” Hating his own father, passing it off to his son and hoping that he too would turn out like him. A code breaker, who knows more than the average hacker as Steve could find locations when others could not, knows when his father is close by and where and never once falters in his quest to want to take him down. Listening to the voice of someone close to her father we begin to understand her rationale and thinking readers. Readers will take away with them the definitions of victim, acceptance, loneliness and desperation as she tips off Walter. Ellen gets caught up in this case and has to decide just where her allegiance lies and if can she trust Steve whose been used as a human target or prey for over twenty years. When the investigation gets higher priority and Dave Hempel her superior decides to hear their evidence his decision to form a task force and make Sam stand in front of cameras puts him in harms way. As the case seems to be falling more on her shoulders, a press conference that angers Walter what happens next will alert Ellen that Walter is not done yet and the end result might be losing someone she cares about and loves.
Police work that is fine-tuned and procedures methodically followed as Ellen leads the way under Sam’s guidance to pursue a deadly killer. Blood is thicker than water they say but not in this case as the blood that is spilled comes from innocent victims and the confrontation faced when father and son meet will change the definition of Blood Ties forever. Playing a game of phone tag with each other Walter and Steve set the tone and the stakes really high as both Sam and Ellen find themselves in Walter’s sites and what happens next is heart stopping, frightening and explosive. An ending that will force Ellen to decide if she is able to take it to the next level as Steve is willing to risk it all for her. When someone is hurt will Ellen be able to take action or will she freeze? Will they be able to stop Walter for good or will Steve become another casualty? As Ellen and Sam close in on him they learn about his medications, killing his own doctor and learning the harsh truth about his illness. An ending filled with twists, suspense, revelations, deceits, lies and one man who justifies his actions and another who would never let on he was afraid. Blood Ties: In some cases they need to be severed. Author Nicholas Guild hits the mark and raises the bar in this outstanding mystery/thriller novel as Sam and Ellen are a great team and hopefully he will bring Ellen this cast of characters back again. How can you forgive yourself and move ahead when you feel guilty for the past and some of the present? Steve Tregear: What will his future hold?
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews