4.6 3
by Bill Loehfelm

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"Both a suspenseful crime story and the saga of a troubled Irish- American family... Superb." (Associated Press)

Kevin Curran was ready to give up on his younger brother, Danny, who is lost to heroin addiction and hard, desperate living on the streets of New York. So when Danny shows up on Kevin's Staten Island doorstep, looking clean, fit, and


"Both a suspenseful crime story and the saga of a troubled Irish- American family... Superb." (Associated Press)

Kevin Curran was ready to give up on his younger brother, Danny, who is lost to heroin addiction and hard, desperate living on the streets of New York. So when Danny shows up on Kevin's Staten Island doorstep, looking clean, fit, and prosperous, Kevin can't help but be overjoyed.

But when Danny offers Kevin a role in an underworld plot revolving around the abandoned Bloodroot Children's Hospital, not even Kevin's worst nightmares could have prepared him for what he'll discover or the horrific revelations that will pit them against a world of murder, mob hitmen-and each other.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Loehfelm follows Fresh Kills (2008), which won Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award, with another novel that mines the emotional dynamics of family relationships, if with fewer thrills. Kevin Curran, a history teacher at a Staten Island community college, is surprised when his younger brother, Danny, turns up after years spent on the street as a drug addict. Danny, who's kicked his habit but is now working for a local crime kingpin, persuades Kevin to help him dig up several bodies buried on the grounds of the long-abandoned Bloodroot Children's Hospital, a horrifying concentration camp–like institution for kids from which Danny was adopted. Soon Kevin finds himself enmeshed in a complicated plan involving an illegal property development project. The action gets moving in the final pages, but by then some readers will feel they know a lot about Kevin and Danny but not enough about the evil scientists and unspeakable crimes associated with Bloodroot. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
A burned-out college instructor reunites with his brother, falls in love and skirts the Mafia in a novel teetering on the border between thriller and family drama. Loehfelm (Fresh Kills, 2008, etc.) finds in blue-collar Staten Island the sort of desolation Dennis Lehane mines in south Boston. He sees people leading desperate lives among "the weathered houses, crooked on wasted plots and afire with borrowed light." Once a promising history instructor at Richmond City College, Kevin Curran now leans on old lesson plans and puts off grading papers. Kevin snaps to when brother Danny shows up after a three-year absence, claiming he's beaten his heroin addiction. But Danny is hardly in the clear; he's doing electronic spying and other errands for the owner of an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. Danny engages Kevin for one such errand, the gruesome disposal of some bodies in a landfill. For their efforts, the restaurant owner hands the men two envelopes, each stuffed with five Gs. Will Kevin follow the Mafia money trail or turn from his brother? Blood ties prevail, advises Kelsey Reyes, a colleague with whom Kevin becomes romantically linked. Her observation points a clear symbolic path to Bloodroot, the notorious Staten Island hospital where a quarter-century ago doctors subjected children, Danny perhaps among them, to inhuman physical and psychological abuse. Danny supports his boss, who wants the Bloodroot site turned into a public park; the project would generate lucrative construction contracts. But Kevin's dean wants the shuttered facility turned into a museum. Danny enlists Kevin to block the dean's effort by hacking into his computer files as this portrait of fraternal bonds moves to aforced action climax. Despite Loehfelm's earnest gestures towards Deeper Meaning, not to mention a decidedly grim ending, this dark tale lacks the impact of tragedy. Characters are defined by little more than their basic conflicts and objectives, and passages of sharp, sensate prose too often give way to flat, overwrought writing. Promising, though uneven.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island, Bill Loehfelm moved to New Orleans in 1997 where he's taught high school and college, managed a pizza joint and an antique shop, and tended bar in the Quarter and the Warehouse District. Winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, his work has also appeared in the anthologies Year Zero and Life in the Wake.

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Bloodroot 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 70 yrs old and I'm from Staten Island so I thought this would be a good book to read. I found it is for younger adults, maybe 18-35. It's a story about a relationship between two brothers, drugs,crime, and morality; difficult things for a younger person to figure out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PoetryDoc More than 1 year ago
I first read Bloodroot when it came out in hard cover. It was one of those fabulous winter vacation books, one of those curl up by the fire and break out the winter ales kind of books. I was anxious to read this, as I had just finished his Fresh Kills and was hoping that his sophomore novel would be just as good. It did not disappoint. Loehfelm populates his book with real people, people whom you would know if you lived in NYC, in this instance Staten Island,very well. If you do not live in NYC, then you will get a good sense of what a working class, non-stereotypical (though not atypical) Staten Islander/outer borough NYC resident lives and breathes every day. His protagonist is a sharply drawn combination of brainy and a bit outside the margin. It's a mystery, it's a love story, it's even a little gothic. So here I am on winter vacation again thinking about pleasurable reads, and Bloodroot came to mind. I don't often re-read novels, non-fiction for sure, but not novels. This one brought me so much pleasure the first time around, I wanted to read it again. I was up until the early hours of the morning enjoying my second-go-round with Bloodroot. I look forward to a third Loehfelm novel and am hoping that I won't have to wait until next winter vacation for it. I highly recommend this book--it's smart, it's insightful, and it's just plain fun to read.