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The Weight of Blood: A Novel
320 pages; Spiegel & Grau
In the opening sentences of The Weight of Blood, a photographer in Henbane, a small Ozark town, enchanted by the ghostly image of vultures perched on the branch of a frozen, dead tree, finds the body of a teenage girl named Cheri Stoddard drifting in the shallows of the North Fork River. Lucy Dane, the closest thing Cheri had to a friend, begins unraveling a mystery that stretches back to her own mother's disappearance 17 years before. The story, alternately told in Lucy's voice and her mother Lila's, is gripping, full of sharp (if occasionally predictable) twists and turns. McHugh's vivid, vital depiction of Henbane is where the novel really comes alive—it's a place that's lush with natural beauty, haunting and dangerous, where you can practically taste "the air woozy with ripeness and rot."
— Ruth Baron