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In Greg Iles' Blood Memory, forensic odontologist Cat Ferry is losing her sanity. After several panic attacks, Cat is suspended while investigating the case of a serial killer. Plagued by nightmares, depression, alcoholism, and an unplanned pregnancy, Cat retreats to her family estate in Mississippi. Instead of sanctuary she discovers a frightening family secret. The murder investigations become intertwined with her own family history and Cat's investigations turn into a fight to save her sanity and her life.

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Jonathan Alston
Criminal Intelligence Analyst
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Paul Bergen
Book Reviewer
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I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Originally it seemed to have a formula, and I expected that it was going to be like a lot of the other crime fiction books I'd read, and then it took a 180 turn into the real social issue of childhood sexual abuse. It was excellent.

The Blood Memory murders are mostly believable. The use of teeth as a weapon of torture is consistent with some psychological disorders, particularly sexual sadism. Shooting someone in the back to disable them and not kill them is more difficult than it sounds, and then of course the bullet wound to the head is always a nice way to kill somebody if you're trying to get the job done. The book has a twist that's never been seen before in real life so we might have missed the solution, but the children of the murder victims would have been suspects very early on. Typically with serial rapists or murderers where there is more than one offender there is a strong familial or overarching bond that keeps the group together. Revenge is also a great motive for murder, it's a strong emotion that results in a lot of homicides. The bite mark weapon was the most inaccurate element in the murders. It's not believable.

Having come across sexual abusers in my professional work, I found Dr. Kirkland or "Grandpappy" compelling. His rationalizations, narcissism, just the self-love that he expressed were the same as persons that I've encountered.


Everyone is telling lies in this book, there's deception on every level. Cat is having a relationship with a married man, they're both involved in unethical crime solving, getting involved with crime scenes. Many times Cat will be in a desperate spot and she won't tell anyone what she's doing. She'll lie because she wants to get to the bottom of something before she lets it out of the bag. She's lied to continuously by her grandfather, by her mother, by the family servants, it's like a nice, old soap opera.

I think of Cat Ferry as the tooth fairy - I don't know if this is a joke that Iles is making, but everything that touches Cat's life seems to come out in teeth. She defends herself with her teeth, there were teeth involved in her father's murder, and of course in her job. When Nathan Mallock, the psychologist, explains his work to Cat as being the ferryman across the river Forgetfulness it makes them into dual figures.

I gave this book 3.5 daggers because I prefer a more scaled-down kind of book. Blood Memory is a great page-turner, but it's a little overwritten for my tastes.

Other reviews by Paul Bergen:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
He Who Fears the Wolf
Shock Wave
Strange Affair