In the Blood

In the Blood

4.3 51
by Lisa Unger
     
 

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The New York Times bestselling author and International Thriller Writers “Best Novel” finalist Lisa Unger returns to the dark psychological suspense that made Beautiful Lies a bestseller around the world.

Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy

Overview

The New York Times bestselling author and International Thriller Writers “Best Novel” finalist Lisa Unger returns to the dark psychological suspense that made Beautiful Lies a bestseller around the world.

Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her where­abouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.

Lisa Unger’s writing has been hailed as “sensational” (Publishers Weekly) and “sophisticated” (New York Daily News), with “gripping narrative and evocative, muscular prose” (Associated Press). Masterfully suspenseful, finely crafted, and written with a no-holds-barred raw power, In the Blood is Unger at her best.

Editorial Reviews

Andrew Pyper
"In the Blood is a psychological thriller that played me—in the best sense—from beginning to surprising end. I guarantee Lisa Unger will pull the rug out from under you more than once, so hold tight."
Lee Child
“Suspenseful, sensitive, sexy, subtle … The best nail-biter I have read for ages. Highly recommended.”
Chicago Tribune
“Perfect pitch, characters we can recognize as versions of ourselves, a plot in which a vague sense of suspense almost instantly appears and then grows with the speed of a waterslide. … Lip-smacking good.”
Tampa Bay Tribune
In The Blood may be [Unger's] best one yet. . . . Keeps the shocks and twists coming at a breakneck pace.”
New York Daily News
“Always scary…Unger neatly distorts our perceptions, so there’s no telling what is what. Well done.”
Family Circle
“A riveting chess match of twists will keep you guessing—and keep you up at night.”
Bookpage
"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."
News & Observer
“Unger is a compelling storyteller whose tales rest on human frailty. . . . She makes it impossible to stop reading.”
Sun Sentinel
“The brisk plot churns.”
Associated Press Staff
"Nothing is what it seems as Unger pulls off some beautiful surprises in this intriguing thriller. . . . Masterfully told."
The Charlotte Observer
“Unger is a compelling storyteller whose tales rest on human frailty. . . . She makes it impossible to stop reading.”
The Sun (UK)
"A fantastic novel full of suspense and intrigue. Massively recommended."
People (3 ½ stars)
Heartbroken has all the makings of a high-wire thriller. But it's the twisted psyches of its main characters that really unsettle.”
The Washington Post
“[A] brisk, crafty and fascinating psychological thriller . . . Offers plenty of good, scary fun — scenes that will make readers jump . . . [and] a reveal that will surely elicit a satisfied gasp from the reader. . . . In the Blood is a complex mosaic as well, one that’s tricky, arresting and meaningful.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Prepare to be scared. Creepy characters, grippingplot, chilling description — this novel is a perfect weekend read . . . This issimply a great, scary psychological thriller."
People
“Unger’s latest keeps the adrenaline pumping with a roller-coaster plot and harrowing psychological suspense. … Well worth the ride.”
Dennis Lehane
In the Blood is an absolute corker of a thriller that cements Lisa Unger's status as one of the brightest stars in the game.”
Linda Fairstein
"In the Blood is a riveting new thriller from Lisa Unger. Dark and haunting, with a deadly twist that you won't see coming 'til you're hit between the eyes, this book is a winner."
USA Today (4 stars)
“Stellar... Heartbroken should be on everyone’s summer to-read list. For best results, read it alone on an island on a dark and stormy night.”
People (3 ½ stars)
Heartbroken has all the makings of a high-wire thriller. But it's the twisted psyches of its main characters that really unsettle.”
Michael Connelly
“Deeply plotted and complex and carries an undeniable momentum. Lisa Unger’s enthralling cast of characters pulled me right in and locked me down tight. This is one book that will have you racing to the last page, only to have you wishing the ride wasn’t over.”
Karin Slaughter
"Reading In the Blood is like grabbing a live wire. . . . A shocking, unputdownable thriller."
Harlan Coben
“Riveting psychological suspense of the first order. If you haven’t yet experienced Lisa Unger, what are you waiting for?”
Tess Gerritsen
“I read Black Out in one hungry gulp and spent the rest of the night trying to calm my jangled nerves. This is a stunning, mind-bending shocker with moments of sheer terror — one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year!”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476708232
Publisher:
Pocket Books
Publication date:
07/22/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
637,990
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

In The Blood


  • The winter day was gray and cool, not frigid as it had been. But still it was a very typical January day in upstate New York—barren, chill, flat. I rode my bike around the small, deserted campus, reveling in a quiet that is at its most total right before everyone returns from winter break. The trees were bare, twisted fingers reaching up into the thick, low cloud cover.

    I had just returned to school from an unbearable holiday spent with my unbearable aunt and unbearable cousins. (And I know for a fact that they feel exactly the same way about me.) But we did bear up, because that’s what family does, isn’t it? We bear up, together, like it or not.

    And so they tolerated the dark-haired, dark-eyed sulking interloper, a wraith in their sunny, golden-haired midst. And I tolerated their terrible happy togetherness. But I knew, and so did they, that I had not quite been folded in. I was a cockroach in the batter of their sweet lives. Too polite to remove me, they ate around me.

    I can’t fault them, really. Because they are kind and good, and they took me in against all advice and good sense. And I do try to be polite, and they do, as well. And we are all very good at enduring unhappiness, especially my aunt, who had a great deal of practice early on.

    “I have created my life,” she said, in one of the torturous heart-to-hearts she tried to have with me. “And you’re smart enough to do the same.”

    She believes that, she really does. She thinks that we are made and not born, that it is the power of choice that forms our lives. With enough positive energy and good feng shui we can overcome almost anything. She’s one of those, the magical thinkers. I think I envy her, even if I can hardly suppress my disdain.

    It was that time, with graduation right around the corner, when people wanted to know what you were going to do with your life. Graduate school seemed like a good bet, if for no other reason than it delayed my emergence from the freedom and indulgence of academics into the world of alarm clocks and ambition, and nine-to-five. I couldn’t see myself sitting in a cube somewhere—file cabinets and ringing phones, office birthday cakes and paper cuts. What was a psychology major fit for, if not for more education? The human mind, with all its mystery, bears endless study. Doesn’t it?

    But if I hadn’t quite made any decisions on that front, I knew one thing. I needed a job. There was money for everything—for school and housing, for books and extras. My parents, whatever their failings, had made sure of it. There was an account, and I had a lawyer whom I called if I needed something: Skylar Lawrence, the man with the checkbook. He always sounded young on the phone, like a teenage girl. But he was old, ancient even—stooped and bald, draped in expensive suits, sporting gold-rimmed spectacles. He had known my parents for many years, and was the executor of my mother’s estate and manager of my trust. We’d met a couple of times over the years—solemn visits in his office, where he droned on about the status of my mother’s investments, budgets, conditions of the trust. I would sit, nodding sagely, with no idea what he was talking about, too shy to ask many questions.

    When I thought of him, which was really only when I needed money, I always envisioned him dwarfed in his huge leather chair, with his stunning view of Manhattan spread about him like a glittering carpet. With a gnarled hand, he’d press a button and money would appear in my checking account. I know: a trust-fund baby, how annoying. Believe it, you wouldn’t want to be me.

    During my last conversation with Sky, he suggested that I might find some work since my class schedule was light.

    “It would be a good thing for you,” he said. I heard a sharp inhale and slow exhale. He was a smoker; there was an occasional edge to his otherwise youthful voice, sudden bursts of wet, rattling coughs. “To earn something of your own.”

    “Okay,” I said. I always said that. It was my stock response when I didn’t know what to say.

    “Because you’re an adult now,” he went on, as though I’d put up an argument. “And you need to decide what you are going to make of your life. Earning your own way is part of that.”

    “You sound like Aunt Bridgette.”

    I heard the hiss of a match lighting, and he drew in another breath sharply. I suppose it wasn’t a stretch to think that this was a scheme they’d hatched together. We choose who we are, she’d said over break, certainly not for the first time. And I could tell that it was important to her that I believe that. We don’t inherit everything.

    “Am I out of money or something?” I asked.

    “Not yet,” he said. “But as you know, there is a period of diminished support after graduation. You won’t come into your trust until you’re thirty. It was your mother’s wish that you find your calling, and earn your own way.”

    “Right,” I said. Of course, I knew this. Both Sky and Bridgette had mentioned it repeatedly. But somehow it had always seemed so very far away, that time when I’d spread my wings and fly on my own. Here I was, on the edge of the academic nest and looking down. I had no idea whether I’d take to the air or crash into a pile of bones.

    “So, when you say ‘diminished support,’ you mean . . . ?”

    He told me the small yearly sum I would receive, just to help make ends meet and to provide for some extras should I have a low-paying job. “Your mother wanted you to follow your dreams, make a difference. It was her hope that you’d help people. She didn’t want you to choose your career based on how much it paid, but she did want you to do something.”

    Of course, no one ever mentioned my father or what he wanted from me.

    “I know,” I said. “I will.”

    So, that first day back after my winding, solitary bike ride around campus, I walked to the office of student affairs to gaze at the job board. I was weirdly excited. I liked the idea of doing something other than studying, which I had been doing diligently for years. I had been the valedictorian of my high school class. I had a perfect 4.0 average at university. Knowledge and the regurgitation of such in the form of essay and exam came very easily to me. It was everything else that came hard.

    Dog walker? Coffeehouse waitress? Bookstore clerk? Librarian assistant? Math tutor? The board was a colorful riot of help-wanted notices, and the possibilities seemed endless. The office assistant was typing behind me. Beside me the phone rang three times, went silent, then started ringing again. I ripped off little paper tags with phone numbers on them. I imagined myself tugged down the street by five dogs with bladders about to burst, or rushing between bistro tables delivering espressos to the undercaffeinated, or quietly filing homeless books, putting them in proper order. Is that what my mom would have wanted for me? Did these jobs qualify as helping people?

    “What about this one?”

    Startled from my reverie, I saw my psychology professor lingering nearby. He was looking at yet another board brimming with offers. So many people with menial needs, offering positions to those of us desperate for pocket money. It was a sub-economy: easy jobs for overprivileged youth. It seemed like an inside joke. While the larger economy faltered and the working poor labored tirelessly only to make ends meet, some of us drifted on a silly cloud, only asking to receive. Or maybe that’s just me being cynical.

    I walked over to stand beside him. He was squinting through his glasses as he pulled a notice off the board and handed it to me.

    “ ‘Single mother looking for afternoon help with her eleven-year-old son,’ ” I read. “ ‘After school through dinner, some overnights.’ ”

    “Should work with your schedule,” he said easily. I had mentioned to him my need for a job before break and he’d promised to be on the lookout for something suitable.

    In addition to being my teacher, he was also my school counselor. He’d come to the university shortly after I started. And we’d always walked the line of friendship, which was easier now that I was older.

    Langdon Hewes was a study in propriety. We had only met in public places, or with the door to his office wide open. He was too young to be so cautious, but he hinted at having had some kind of negative past experience. And I didn’t pry—because I certainly didn’t want to talk about my past either. He ran a hand through the perpetual tousle of his dark hair, and looked down at me from his towering height.

    “Nanny?” I said, skeptical.

    “More like babysitter,” he said.

    “What’s the difference?”

    He shrugged, looked up. He had this way of searching the sky or the ceiling for his answers. He’d tilt his head up and squint into nothingness, as if it were all there in the ether, just waiting to be found.

    “Nannies are for little kids,” he said finally. “It’s more of a full-time position. Babysitting is, like, more casual, more as needed.”

    He said this with a firm nod that brooked no questioning. Even though he surely knew nothing about nannies or babysitters, I took him at his word. He did have a Ph.D. in child psychology, was the known expert in childhood psychopathy. He’d published several articles in major consumer magazines—including the New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today, Vanity Fair, as well as the ever-important academic journals. Publish or perish; it was no joke at this school. He was currently at work on a book, a collection of case studies that was, he hoped, a blend between a text and something more mainstream. So maybe his opinion on this topic counted for something. At least that’s what I told myself.

    I held the ad in my hand. Unlike the other pink and green and yellow sheets, with their fun or fancy typefaces, this was just a plain white paper, with centered Times New Roman text. It offered nothing but its own simplicity. A need in black and white, waiting to be filled.

    “You only have three classes this term,” he said. “Mine, criminal psychology, and art. Light load. Never a good idea to have too much time on your hands.”

    I wouldn’t call him handsome, but there was something pleasant about his aspect. Even his slouch, his perfectly pressed oxfords and chinos (sometimes jeans), those Merrell cross-training shoes, had a kind of comforting predictability. With Langdon, there were never any surprises. My own inner life was always chaotic, churning. I wondered what it was like to be so even, so measured. His presence never failed to calm me.

    “I’ll be your reference.”

    “I don’t have any babysitting experience.”

    “You’re a psych major,” he said. “There was your internship at Fieldcrest. You were fabulous with the kids.” He said this with a smile, as though it was a little private joke. “You got an A in my class.”

    My work at Fieldcrest, a school associated with the university for troubled and emotionally challenged young people, had been intense, to say the least. I was pleased that he thought I’d done a good job there. It was the first time he’d said so out loud, even though the internship evaluation he’d written had been glowing. I shifted forward, closer to him, feeling a little jolt of excitement. There was something about the paper in my hand, about his being there, about the prospect of something new in my life.

    I fished my phone from my backpack and dialed the number as we walked into his office. I sat across from his desk and he sat, spun to face his computer, and started typing.

    “My name is Lana Granger,” I said when a woman answered. “I’m answering your ad.”

    “Oh, great,” she said. She sounded slightly breathless. I heard paper rustling in the background. “Can you come for an interview today?”

    Outside the window, it seemed like a ray of sun had broken through the cloud cover and I saw a little bit of blue in the sky for what seemed like the first time in months.

    “Uh,” I said stupidly. I hadn’t expected things to progress so quickly. But why not? I guess when you needed a sitter, you really needed a sitter. I looked at my wrist only to realize that I wasn’t wearing a watch. I didn’t even own a watch. And I knew that I had nothing whatsoever to do that day anyway. “Sure.”

    “Perfect,” she said. She sounded bright and cheerful; nice, I guess. “After lunch, say twoish?”

    We made all the arrangements, exchanged necessary information like her address ( just a quick bike ride away from campus), her name (Rachel Kahn, son Luke), my phone number. After I hung up, Langdon turned to look at me. He had an odd expression on his face, something I couldn’t read. But he was like that, a total brain, his mind always working, figuring, developing theories.

    “Good work,” he said.

    “I didn’t do anything,” I answered. “It was just a phone call.”

    “Today is the beginning of your real life,” he said. “This could be your first actual job.”

    I couldn’t tell if he was making fun of me in that sweet, gentle way that he had. But I found myself smiling at him. It did feel like kind of a big deal, and my stomach was a little fluttery with happiness. And I was glad I had him to share it with.

    “I’ll take you out to lunch to celebrate,” he said. “Let’s go get some pizza.”

    I thought about my aunt Bridgette, who is not really so unbearable. Seriously. It’s only that she’s not my mother. Though I know she cares for me, she doesn’t love me. Only a child who has lost a mother knows how yawning and uncrossable is the space between those two things. Just because horrible things have happened to you doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy, normal life, she’d said to me once. I had felt sorry for her, only because I suspected that she might be wrong. I was marked, wasn’t I? Forever? But for whatever silly reason as we left Langdon’s office, I let myself wonder if maybe she was right after all.

  • Meet the Author

    Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Her novels have sold more than two million copies and have been translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Florida. Visit LisaUnger.com.

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    In the Blood 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 51 reviews.
    XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
    In The Blood by Lisa Unger is an amazing novel. From the very first page this story has the energy and momentum of a freight train. It's hard to do a review of this novel and not give any of the story away - and I hate when people do that!! What I will say is that it has a super cast of characters. It's twisty and surprising and will keep you reading until the wee hours of dawn. It's extremely hard to tear yourself away once you get going on this book. What I liked best is that In The Blood felt very original to me. Sometimes you finish a book and feel like you've read just another version of the same story. In The Blood is out of the box and I enjoyed it immensely. I can't wait to read more work from this author.
    RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
    Is evil predetermined genetically, or is it based on environment and upbringing? IN THE BLOOD attempts to answer this question, and I can state rather emphatically that my mind might never be the same again. The mental mind trip left me in a cold sweat, and there’s a chance I may now be prone to night terrors. If I wake up screaming, though, I’ll only have myself to blame, as I attempt to pound through the pain. The plot moved along at a slow simmer with some rather unexpected twists and turns, as I kept a death grip on my Kindle and flipped the pages with one eye closed. Terror of the psychological variety proves much more appealing to me than some dude in a hockey mask slashing oversexed campers with a machete. And there’s plenty of terror to be had here, most of which floats just beneath the surface, bubbling up when you least expect it, and grasping you around the ankle before pulling you beneath the water. Lana Granger may have told more than a few lies in her day, each one building upon the one before it. Even though she might show aspects of being a pathological or compulsive liar, I’d still stand behind her. Despite Luke being only eleven-years-old, I wouldn’t stand behind him, even if I were holding a shovel in one hand and a grenade in the other. There’s a term that often applies in situations such as these: little bastard. And should you look it up in the dictionary, you’d probably see a picture of Luke’s sneering mug (among others). I am proud to say I have more Lisa Unger novels at my disposal, so when the night terrors cease, I shall revisit her to kick start the screaming and cold sweats all over again. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
    LoveToReadJFE More than 1 year ago
    Lisa Unger’s exciting page-turner draws you in . . . just when you think you have it all figured out, everything changes and the plot twists keep you guessing right to the very end. Highly recommended.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I read this book in two days. Luckily I had nothing to do because I was completely glued to it. It was an easy tead and a total mind f***. My only complaint is that it wasnt longer! I cant wait to read more books by this author.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I could hardly put it down. Thrilling to the very end!
    Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
    This was the first book that I have read by Lisa Unger and it will not be my last.  This had so much action and lots of twists and turns.  I look forward to reading more of her stories.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Easy read. The big plot twist is unexpected, but not a good one. It seems like the author had the twist, but did not know how to finish it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great book. I was glued to reading this, each chapter better than the last. Hope to read more books by this author and they are just as thrilling!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Lisa Unger is one of the few authors I will go out of my way to pre-order. I waited so long for this book to come out and it did not disapoint. Perhaps one of her best works, this book kept me riveted.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Awesome!
    SeaKyle 29 days ago
    Great read. The plot is a very unique one and it leaves you questioning things as you move through the story line. It is creepy and suspenseful and the ending was perfect. It also was quite tender in that it touched on the reality of what life is like for normal people living through extraordinary circumstances. I will definitely keep reading works by this author.
    Anonymous 4 months ago
    This book was a page turner. I could not get home fast enough to read this book. This is my second Karin Slaughter book and i for sure will be buying another one. The book is from two points of views the protagnoist Lana and a diary entry from someone else. I will not give to much away but the plot twists, yes multiple made my jaw drop. I honestly did not see it coming. Very well written you will not be disappointed. Be prepared for lack of sleep from reading to late imto the night with this book.
    jeni-b 4 months ago
    Lisa Unger formulates a clever concoction of mental manipulations and emotional complexities of abnormal psychology. The internal narrative of these mentally disturbed characters allows an up close and personal encounter that captivates with mouth dropping suspense. In the Blood is an exact definition of a psychological thriller! Follow me on Instagram for more book reviews! @abookwithaview ~jeni b~
    Anonymous 7 months ago
    This was the first Lisa Unger book that I read and I was hooked! I did not want to put the book down and really enjoyed trying to figure out what was going to happen. I felt it was suspenseful from start to finish and am planning to read many more books from this author!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
    Suspenseful and Unpredictable
    Sue5 More than 1 year ago
    WOW , I couldn't put it down, read it in 48 hours.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very good...lots of twists and a great ending
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Lots of suspense. Towards the end of the book it will surprise you.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am an avid reader of suspense and psychological thrillers and this is the best book I've read in a long time. Highly recommended.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I now see why this was on the $1.99 Nook list. It's horrible. Too predictable, and really in a bad way. And it's painfully clear that the author hasn't experienced much of real life. For instance, the main character wondering when she last filled her prescription? Sorry if that distracted me from the story, but every prescription label shows the last fill date. But that's only a minor instance that shows why I gave up on this book after 140 pages. And I'm really upset that I gave it that much of my time. I usually feel like any book that keeps my interest for 50 pages is worth my dedication through the last page. But this one was pretty horrible.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great Book, loved the characters. ending was Not totally Predictable. worth it if you like creepy with twist and turns.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book so much that I dropped my Easter weekend plans so that I could keep reading the book without interuptions. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a psychologicl thriller or anyone who has an interest in abnormal psychology.