BLOOD RELATIVE by Carolyn Hougan


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 Despite a highfalutin Author's Note describing it as ``a book about `real' and received memory, about our inability to escape the past, about deception and discovery,'' this is really a two-act melodrama about a crazed victim of Argentine political terrorism who, after losing his entire family except for his three-year-old niece--years ago spirited off to America--decides (don't ask why) to avenge himself by finding and killing the niece. Act One, about how Rolando Carerra, with the help of his volatile henchman Hugo Moro, tracks down and prepares to kill Maria--now teenaged Mariah Ebinger, living with a hypernormal adoptive family in Wisconsin, then the D.C. suburbs--is a throwaway; you could read the blurb and crack the book halfway through without missing a thing except for Mariah's deflowering by clean-cut Ryan Ferguson. Act Two, about how Mariah and Ryan frantically scheme to stay one jump ahead of Uncle Rolando and his sidekick, is an expertly sustained chase, as Hougan (Shooting in the Dark, 1984; The Romeo Flag, 1989) brings the pursuers to Alexandria just as Mariah's coincidentally realized that she's adopted and taken off from home--knowing, after she calls her parents, that something terrible is going on between them and the strange man she's glimpsed, but not knowing enough to sell a convincing story to the police. If you forget the memory/political pretensions and overlook the delaying tactics of the exposition, well, this isn't half bad.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1992
ISBN: 0-449-90646-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1992