Be afraid. Be very afraid. Bloodstream is a deliciously frightening story guaranteed to send chills up your spine an added bonus this time of year.

Newly widowed Dr. Claire Elliot has left a successful career in Baltimore to move with her son, Noah, to the small resort town of Tranquillity, Maine. After the death of his father, Noah had fallen in with bad company and run afoul of the law. Claire had decided that a move to Tranquillity would make for a fresh start for both mother and son.

However, Noah is unhappy in school, struggling to fit in among students who have known each other since birth. And Claire is beginning to have her own doubts about the move as it becomes apparent that the locals are more than a little suspicious of the big city doctor who has taken over the practice of their longtime and beloved physician. Tranquillity it seems, is anything but for Claire and her son.

Then the violence begins. One of Claire's teenage patients opens fire in his high school biology class, killing the teacher and wounding several students. His parents blame Claire for taking him off a medication prescribed by his former physician, but Claire is certain that something else led the boy to commit such a terrible and unexpected act. When she tries to order a blood test for drugs, Claire is abruptly dismissed as the boy's doctor.

As the violence escalates quiet children are suddenly given to vicious outbursts, cruelty to animals, then another inexplicable murder Claire desperately searches for a cause. Amid wild rumors of Satanic cults and local witches, she considers everything from illegal drugs to the small blue mushrooms that grow in the woods and are sometimes eaten by Tranquillity's teens. And what about the strange phosphorescent green glow that Claire and Lincoln Kelly, the local sheriff, see coming from the local lake? Then Claire discovers what many of the local already know this isn't the first time that seemingly normal teenagers have committed unspeakable acts of violence in Tranquillity. There were murders in 1887 and again almost 50 years ago. Warren Emerson, one of the murderous teens from five decades ago, still lives in Tranquillity. Cast out from the community, he lives in virtual isolation in the woods with only a cat and his memories for companionship. Could Warren, wonders Claire, hold the key to what's happening to Tranquillity's children? Gerritsen, whose two previous medical thrillers, Harvest and Life Support terrorized their way onto bestseller lists, looks to have done it again Bloodstream is best read with the lights on and the doors securely locked.

Lucinda Dyer is a publicist and freelance writer in Franklin, Tennessee.

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