The Circle of Blood is the third novel that follows assistant to the coroner Cameryn Mahoney. In the previous novel, Angel of Death (see August o1, 2007), Cameryn's long-lost mother, Hannah, re-enters her life, creating a lot of tension between the family members. Cameryn, though, feels that she's her mother's only hope and decides to stand up for her, despite the risks. When she sees her mother with a runaway (Mariah/Baby Doe) and then finds the runaway dead only hours later, Cameryn starts down the slippery slope of lies in order to protect Hannah. At first it seems as though Mariah had committed suicide, but, for some reason, her long braid had been cut off and placed in her backpack, which looks a little suspicious. Upon autopsy and a brain examination, the medical examiner determined that Mariah (later to be identified as Ester) had been murdered. Fearing the Hannah is the number one suspect, Cameryn begins a desperate search for truth that leads her to the dark world of polygamists.
My past exposure to this series has left me lukewarm to the novels. This third book hasn't exactly warmed me, but it's given me hope. I was actually planning on calling it quits right up until the last four pages when it leaves a cliffhanger and me wanting to read another book. Story-wise it's okay. It did take a while to actually get moving and in some ways it seemed to fall back on the reader having previous knowledge of the other books. A reader unfamiliar with the series might have difficulty understanding characters and some situations if they started with this book. The polygamist aspect of the story is interesting and helps to give the novel depth. This series is also identified as forensic mystery and this novel seems to delve more into the forensic aspects than the others. Cameryn explains things such as rigor, decomposition, brain trajectory and a few other forensic topics. The climax, however, was a little prescription - just like the other two it's Cameryn who solves the murder and is face to face with the killer. It seems a little insulting to the police in this story that a 17-year-old can solve a homicide but they can't.
I'm still not overly impressed with this novel. The forensic lesson proved itself to be more than just a mystery but, in a way, I wish this novel were more of a mystery and not so easy for Cameryn. The ending helped redeem my interest in the series and readers curious about the science of murder/dead might like this book.