Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker

Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (303 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

The Carson dynasty rules the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Founded by patriarch Adam, the town is the site of the Mammoth Cup ski race-a qualifier for the Olympics. But when Wylie Welborn, Adam’s illegitimate grandson, returns after a stint in Afghanistan, it reopens a dark moment in Carson family history: the murder of Wylie’s father by his jealous and very pregnant wife, Cynthia. Her son Sky, born while his mother was in prison, and Wylie are half-brothers. They inherit not only superb athletic skills but an enmity that threatens to play out in a lethal drama on one of the fastest and most perilous ski slopes in the world.

Three powerful and unusual women have central roles in this volatile family feud: Cynthia, bent on destroying Wylie; his mother Kathleen, determined to protect him; and April Holly, a beautiful celebrity snowboarder, on track to win Olympic Gold. But, as Wylie falls in love with April and they begin to imagine a life away from the violence that has shattered his family, history threatens to repeat itself and destroy them both.

Are things like jealously, greed, and craziness inherited? Are some people just born with crazy blood? That’s the question when half-brothers Wylie Welborn and Sky Carson set their sights on beating the other at the Mammoth Cup skiing competition. But which one will come out on top? Will slow and steady win the race or will the day be won by sheer audacity?

Wylie Welborn was once on top of the world. Now, upon his return home after a long stint in Afghanistan, he’s finding himself at a loss, trying to rebuild the life he’d had before. He’s a complex and interesting character, one I enjoyed very much, in spite of his struggles and inner demons. Although Wylie is content to ski and help out his family, when the chance at love comes around, he throws himself all into the opportunity. I found it interesting how, even though he was the illegitimate son of the town’s patriarch, Adam Carson, said patriarch embraced Wylie with open arms. It was a refreshing approach to an age-old situation. Even Adam Carson’s oldest grandson, Robert, treated Wylie like a brother. Adam’s younger grandson, Sky, on the other hand, had nothing but vitriol for Wylie.

Sky Carson is everything Wylie is not. Although an excellent skier, he’s headstrong, arrogant, and reckless. Aided and abetted in his hatred by his mother, the jilted Cynthia Carson, Sky makes it his mission to drive Wylie out of town, but not before he beats him at the Mammoth Cup. Despite the fact that practically every scene with Sky made me seethe with anger and frustration, I honestly felt awful for the kid. His mother was pregnant with him when she caught her husband cheating – of which Wylie was the result – and therefore spent the first thirteen years of his life without his mother. But the way he internalized all of his mother’s ‘crazy blood’ left me feeling out of sorts at times.

Crazy Blood is a sit on the edge of your seat kind of novel because you never know what kind of crazy is going to crop up next. Even though I have very little interest in competitive skiing, the descriptions were exciting and described in a way that even a novice could fully envision them as they happened. There is one serious twist near the end that caught me completely by surprise and stuck with me long after I finished the novel.

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