SUMMARY (by the publisher): When Jay Cassio’s best friend is murdered in a job clearly done by professionals, the walls that he has built to protect himself from the world of others begin to shatter. Dan Del Colliano had been his confidante and protector since the men were children on the savage streets of Newark, New Jersey. When Dan supports and revives Jay after Jay's parents die in a plane crash, their bond deepens to something beyond brotherhood, beyond blood. Now Jay, a successful lawyer, must find out why Dan died and find a way to seek justice for his murder.
Isabel Perez has lived a life both tainted and charmed since she was a teenager in Mexico. She holds powerful sway over men and has even more powerful alliances with people no one should ever try to cross. She desperately wants her freedom from the chains these people have placed on her. When Jay catapults into her world, their connection is electric, their alliance is lethal, and their future is anything but certain.
Blood of My Brother is for the most part a crude, unembellished portrayal of the word. From the descriptions of Newark in its decay to the raw Mexican wilderness, from the technicalities of criminal investigation to the cold-mannered activities of organised crime, LePore uses carefully chosen, fitting words to paint the image of the modern world reality.
LePore’s characters are regular people with their strong and weak points, struggling with many obstacles in their lives. Although the characters are fictional, their experiences are far from such. On the contrary, the circumstances presented in Blood of My Brother are part of everyday life of millions of people.
Jay is a solitary man, a lawyer, unable to form a lasting relationship with anyone, apart from his best friend Dan. After Dan is murdered, Jay’s only objective becomes finding Dan’s killer and bring him to justice.
However, this is easily said than done since the authorities are mainly interested in catching the heads of a Mexican drug cartel. LePore excels in pointing out how little the officials care for regular people. For individuals in pursuit of boosting their careers Dan, Jay and Isabel are just a step on their way to the big fish, collateral damage, nothing more.
LePore gives a detailed account of the police/FBI investigation, which is interesting enough, but at times a little too descriptive about the lives of individual minor characters such as Chris Markey or Al Garland. Those particular details on one hand slow the plot down but also enrich it on the other.
Isabel’s life is a quintessential example of how cruel people can be to one another. Instead of being crushed by the suffering she goes through, her soul hardens in order to survive. LePore emphasises that Isabel at first teams up with Jay only because he is her only option to break her ties with organised crime. Both of their lives being marked by sadness and loss, they have enough in common to be likely for them to fall in love. However, I missed the growth of their feelings for one another. Their declarations of love to each other felt all too sudden to me, principally because of their otherwise reserved attitude towards forming relationships.
There is a very thin line between delivering justice and revenge, which is very well pointed out already in the title of the novel. Blood may call for either justice or revenge or both. Personally, I oppose any vengeance. Therefore, I was surprised at how easily Jay and Isabel resorted to the same brutal ways as their enemies. Initially, it was understandable for everything they have been through, especially Isabel, and because they had to fight for their lives. Their coldness at it afterwards, though, was somewhat perturbing to me.
I found the ending of the novel contradictory with the rest of it. It is nice LePore tried to show how things should end up well for good people. Nevertheless, exactly because of that, the ending is also a reminder that in real life bad guys do not get what they deserve and good people do not always live happily ever after.
RECOMMENDATION: Blood of my Brother gives an accurate illustration of corrupted officials, organised crime and good people caught in between. The challenging themes it explores are a harsh reminder of reality and a compelling read.
Thanks to Tracee L. Gleichner for inviting me on James’s blog tour and Lou Aronica for sending me a copy of the book for review.