Abandoned by his parents and desperate for revenge against those in his town who have made his life a living hell, twenty-something recluse Robbie has come up with a shameful scheme. On Halloween night, with the assistance of his friends Jody, Dag and Midge, Robbie will give out candy filled with pins and poison. Will he follow through with his despicable plan or will his cohorts stop him before it’s too late?
Blood Sugar is unlike any book I’ve read. Author Daniel Kraus presents Jody, Robbie’s young friend, as the principal narrator. In doing so, Kraus worms his way inside Jody’s brain by writing in Jody’s completely unique voice. In flipping some choice swear words by using phrases like “that’s some serious sharkweek” or “mightyducker” helps to endear him to the reader. Even though I’m not a Lord of the Rings fan, I appreciated his love for the books/movies and the fact that he covers his coat in quotes from the series. Made me laugh out loud on a few occasions.
While Jody is the one who narrates the majority of the book, Kraus allows us to get into the heads of the other main characters through letters they write. I thought this worked really well. We get to see a lot of character development that would otherwise go unnoticed by their brief interactions with Jody. The brightest spotlight shines on Dag who has the biggest evolution from over-achieving, stable teen to something else entirely; something dark and twisted.
Blood Sugar, while ultimately a crime novel, is a very poignant and dark look at life in urban America for those who are struggling both financially and mentally. Robbie’s story is a deeply tragic one and although Jody tries to remain positive for Robbie by putting up a front throughout the novel, it’s clear that he is just a push away from shattering. And he’s not the only one.
Sure, you could probably find scarier books to read this Halloween, but like many of Hardcase Crime’s offerings, Kraus’ Blood Sugar is definitely not to be missed.
Blood Sugar hits shelves on October 08th, 2019