“Closer Than Blood” by Gregg Olsen

There’s no denying that Gregg Olsen is one of my favorite writers. He has a way with mysteries and thrillers that grabs my attention and firmly holds it throughout his books. Closer Than Blood is no exception. In fact this book has quickly risen to the top of my favorite Olsen books.

Olsen lays the plot effectively, teasing the reader with clues from the very beginning. Using twins in a thriller is not uncommon but Olsen has taken the idea down new roads. Tori and Lainie are twins on the outside but as different as night and day on the inside. While the identity of the evil twin is obvious from the beginning, the tension of waiting to see where the story will go holds the reader’s attention straight through. Along with the flashbacks that carefully lay the foundation for events to come, the relationships between the characters are defined. With the twins and Detective Kendall Stark coming from the small town of Kitsap it is apparent from the beginning there is some history between these ladies. I suspected the animosity between Tori and Kendall was based on something unspoken. Although I thought I had it figured out, there was a big surprise awaiting me in the end. The contentious relationship between Tori and her twin Lainie is far more complex than I first suspected. As Tori’s true pathology is revealed bit by bit the tension grows. How far will the evil twin go to fulfill her desires? Countering this is the dogged determination of Kendall Stark who smells a rat and will go to any length to trap her. It is this subtle conflict that carries the story. There is more to the clash of personalities than is seen. Beneath the surface is the small town dynamic that is not uncommon; the in crowd versus the rejects, the good kids versus the trouble makers. Secrets from the past rise up and wind through the plot as truths are revealed. Along with this is the current dilemma; the fanatical plotting of Tori to hang on to what she believes she deserves. No one is safe from her designs and watching the scheme unfold is like watching poison coursing through the veins of the unknowing participants in her power play.

The package is neatly resolved at the end and that is the slight weakness in the story. It is almost anti-climactic and a little more fireworks would have been nice. However loose ends are all tied up, all mysteries are revealed, and in the end it all makes perfect sense.

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