LoyaltyThis was her punishment. She was sure of that. There was no other explanation for the hell she was in. Being tied up and blindfolded had been bad enough. Then she’d heard the engines come to life and begun rocking against the walls of the small space.

The Ludlows are a hard-charging family, and patriarch Carl Ludlow treats his offspring like employees—which they are. But his daughter, Fina, is a bit of a black sheep. A law school dropout, her father keeps her in the fold as the firm’s private investigator, working alongside her brothers. Juggling her family of high-powered (and highly dysfunctional) attorneys, the cops and Boston’s criminal element is usually something Fina does without breaking a sweat. But when her sister-in-law disappears, she’s caught up in a case unlike any she’s encountered before.  Carl wants things resolved without police interference, but the deeper Fina digs, the more impossible that seems. The Ludlows close ranks, and her brother Rand and his unruly teenage daughter Haley grow mysteriously distant from the family. As Fina unearths more dirt, the demands of family loyalty intensify. But Fina is after the truth—no matter the cost.”

Loyalty is by no means a work of any literary value, but it was entertaining. I really enjoyed the tough-as-nails main character, who doesn’t take no for an answer and defies all the modern standards of how one is supposed to live. I liked reading her snappy dialogue with some of the other characters, and how she took a very practical approach to life. 

The writing in Loyalty is by no means remarkable though. It wasn’t suspenseful, or particularly compelling. Just okay. It’s not one of those mysteries where the reader is drawn in and just can’t stop reading. Kind of like The Prodigal Son, actually. 

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the mystery of it, and wanted to find out what happened. I think Loyalty painted a very good portrait of what a high-powered and somewhat corrupt family’s life is like. Although as in many hard-boiled detective type mysteries, the world in the novel seems so alien from everyday life. I find it kind of hard to believe that a family like the Ludlows would actually exist. They’re a half legal, half criminal group of lawyers and investigators. 

There were so many different parts of the mystery, and I must say that they didn’t always fit together cohesively. The characters would get mixed up in my head, and sometimes there were just too many threads to think about at once. Seventy pages in, Fina hadn’t made much progress at all in the investigation, and nothing was coming to light. I like to start getting hints of what’s really happening earlier on. 

The characters really were confusing. There were so many different members of the family; almost too many brothers. Most of Fina’s brothers aren’t really characterized at all; they’re just there to fill out the family and give Fina more family tension. Even Rand isn’t described very much. There were also a lot of other secondary characters that didn’t seem to serve much function.

After about 100 pages, the story started heating up when certain things happen. Let’s just say that Fina gets beaten up a lot throughout the book. Everything was still kind of confusing though. I literally had no idea where the mystery was going, which was in some ways a good thing, and in other ways not so good. Additionally, at the very beginning, the reader reads about someone being kidnapped and drowning; we assume it’s Melanie, but I kind of found myself doubting whether it was Melanie or whether the author was trying to trick me into believing that it was Melanie. That was certainly very interesting, and it made the book more pressing to read through. It definitely started getting much more suspenseful as it went on, and the book improved a lot. Gradually, the different parts of the mystery started coming together, and the climax was very good. 

Ultimately, Loyalty was very good, although it got off to a slow start. It was certainly different than I was expecting, but I did like it, and it was one of those books that got better as you read. Thanks to Putnam for providing me with a review copy.

Read Loyalty:

  • if you like mystery
  • if you like books with spunky heroines

405 pages. 

Rating: ****

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