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By Blood by Ellen Ullman

I love a story with an unreliable narrator and the unnamed, disgraced professor in By Blood by Ellen Ullman is as unreliable as they come.  The stage is set in the early 1970’s San Francisco. The Zodiac killer is on the loose, Patty Hearst is toting a gun, and our narrator is inserting himself in matters that don’t concern him.  He takes an office in the city to work on a series of lectures.  The walls are thin and the patient of the psychiatrist in the next office hates the white-noise machine designed to keep their conversation private.  The patient has problems with her same-sex lover and her adoptive parents.  He is content to just listen until the patient decides to find her birth mother.  He is completely absorbed in her story and decides as a researcher he can help her to reach her goal faster. He does the research and sends it to her under a false name from an adoption agency.  The patient’s story, as well as her birth mother’s story unfolds in twists and turns akin to a Tilt-A-Whirl. I was as captivated by her story as much our unreliable narrator.  If you like a great page turning, suspenseful story this is the book for you.

Sherri M.

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