It is summer of 2001, and forty-five-year old Shane Connolly's supposed All-American-Family life is about to crumble. A prior gang member during his teens, Shane rises above the din of negativity years later and becomes a millionaire, marries his high school sweetheart, and has three beautiful children. Shane has no choice but to hire a private investigator and a top-of-the-line criminal lawyer when his son claims that his father raped him. An unusual scenario involving a wheelchair-bound man at a train station leads Shane to the strikingly beautiful Lia Harrison. A few months later, Shane and Lia find themselves amid the horrific events of 9/11 volunteering side-by-side at Ground Zero. Although they fall in love, there is no guarantee that their relationship will survive since it depends on whether or not Shane's legal team can prove his innocence before he is committed to the worst hellhole prison in New Jersey.
In his debut thriller, rising author Ian McBride crafts a horrendous fiction story within a horrendous incident of American history that he states in his website "is etched" in his memory. McBride is one of many who experienced the devastating effects of that dreadful day. And certainly readers who vividly remember the planes crashing into the Twin Towers will undoubtedly catch from the get go that McBride's third person narrative will eventually roll into the events of September 11, 2001. But there is no clue as to how he will implement that within his plot, as well as his principal protagonists, Shane and Lia. Yet if one looks closely, McBride uses a carefully clever tool to correlate between Shane's life and 9/11 – a moral to the situations that makes a profound statement about standing firm amid adversity.
Although much of his story centers on Shane and his family issues, McBride incorporates a well defined cast who initially appear antagonistic but have a softer side to their rough and gruff demeanors. Good examples include Deano, the Oswald-Cobblepot / The Penquin-looking private investigator and the curt Detective Hallahan. Obviously, the true antagonists unfortunately lie within his own family, his flesh and blood. Yet without giving out any spoilers, it is safe to say that there is a host of mental illness and drugs – demons – seeking to destroy the Connelly household. That said, there is a mouthful of fowl language to perfectly complement McBride's rough and gruff characters.
McBride utilizes a few key elements to keep his plot moving. High on his literary chart is his implementation of the limited viewpoint, whereby readers know what is going on inside the head of one character – namely Shane Connolly. McBride sprinkles Shane's running commentaries randomly but aptly throughout his story. And since Shane is one for hiding family secrets, his thoughts are consistently contrary to his actions. This makes for an attention-grabbing character, especially since Shane throws in a host of Christian remarks (ie, honoring marriage, Judas betraying Jesus, and forgiveness) along the way. Besides dividing his narrative into three parts with distinctly Christian overtone titles, McBride uses another plot-moving element by alternating scenes within Shane's life. Ultimately, the combination of all his literary tools are used to create suspense and various twists and turns while building up to Shane's trial.
Bottom line: Betrayal by Blood and Demons is riveting from end to end. Many kudos to McBride for producing a great debut thriller!