Have you ever told a particular lie for so long that now it seems like the truth to you? It’s become so much a part of you that it’s no longer a betrayal to tell it? In In the Blood, author Lisa Unger has concocted a clever tissue of lies that is the new normal for Lana Granger. The author allows readers brief glimpses that all may not be what it seems.

Readers know Lana has a troubled past. Her father is in prison, convicted of killing her mother. Lana’s mind claims certain facts about the event and discards others, creating a fragile tapestry of her life experiences. How long will it hold together? Now in her senior year of college, she has taken a part-time job looking after Luke, an 11-year-old who attends the school for troubled kids where Lana interns under the guidance of psych professor and school counselor Langdon Hewes.

Luke’s not only eerie and subject to anger; he’s also quick and devious. The two play chess, and Lana knows that he’s “confident, crafty, always five moves ahead.” But Luke may have other, more dangerous games in mind for Lana. Readers may imagine virtual warnings posted on nearly every page: Turn back now! Go no further!

Lana’s careful mental and emotional house of cards is tested when her best friend, Beck, disappears. The police investigate what appears to be a sexual subtext to their relationship. Unger sets up an intricate masquerade—a push-pull of fact and prevarication in the tense interplay between Lana, Langdon and disarming young Luke. The story includes entries from an enigmatic, anonymous diary to further ensnare readers who seek the connection between Lana’s past and present.

This fast-moving book is a rollercoaster thrill ride, withholding crucial facts and then pounding you with them as the chapters wind down. It’s a quick, adrenaline-filled read with a slam-bang climax. Unger’s skill with words, combined with a pace that never lets up, is guaranteed to keep the pages turning long past the midnight hour.

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