TIDEWATER BLOOD by William Hoffman


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Murder, injustice, flight, detection--a disappointingly, though expertly, formulaic tale from Hoffman (Follow Me Home, 1994, etc.). Only two misfortunes mar the festivities when the LeBlanc family, the doyens of Tidewater, gather at Bellerive, the family manse, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Jean Maupin LeBlanc's arrival in Virginia. One is the absence of black-sheep brother Charley LeBlanc, still persona non grata at Bellerive even though he's been released early from Leavenworth on account of good behavior. The other is an explosion that kills John LeBlanc, the head of the family, and his wife and son. (Middle brother Edward's family, a few minutes late in arriving, live to celebrate other anniversaries.) The police naturally assume that Charley, whose feud with his family goes back to a time before his father's death, is responsible--it's exactly the sort of poke in the family eye that would have struck him as appropriate--and so they send a deputation to his subsistence camp in Lizard Inlet to haul him in. The King County sheriff and the Commonwealth's Attorney assume he's guilty; ditto his court-appointed lawyer. But they can't find any physical evidence that would tie Charley, long banished from Bellerive, to the scene, and while they're looking they agree to widen Charley's confinement to the county limits. It's Charley's cue to tug at his leash and hell around, of course, and in a series of memorable vignettes he sweet-talks rides from strangers, swaps lies with country fisherman, brawls with jealous barflies, and casually begins to pick up information about the fatal blast--information that implicates him in quite a different role than killer, and points to a dead man as the real bomber. Limpid and swift-moving, with a full complement of understated surprises: an exemplary presentation of the innocent man on the run for readers who want more texture than they can find in The Fugitive.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1998
ISBN: 0060007583
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Algonquin