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Salty Like Blood 
Author: Harry Kraus, M.D.
Publisher Howard Books (Simon & Schuster, Inc.), 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10020, 2009, pb., 338 pp, $13.99. 9-781416-577898.
Author Harry Kraus was a missionary surgeon in Kenya before moving to Virginia and a surgical practice. So far, he has two books to his credit (1994) Stainless Steal Hearts and (2002) Could I Have This Dance? Now comes a third, Salty Like Blood, which is the story of how a family deals with the loss of a child. In this case, is the child dead or has she been abducted? 
In this novel, each person has a secret and the revelation of those secrets could positively, or negatively affect the lives of others. The story begins by introducing the parents of the missing child, Rachel. They live in the Chesapeake Bay region. Father (David) is a medical doctor and mother is a nurse. Mom (Joanne) comes from a wealthy family whose own mother (Tricia) is a political machine unto herself and step-father is a senator. David comes from a family of lobster fisherman, or men who work with their hands, and this is frowned upon by Joanneís family. When David and Joanne elope and a pregnancy is announced soon after, her family is aghast and her former fiance', Blake, is suspicious. Rachel, the daughter, turns out to be the apple of  Davidís  eye, so when she is missing, his world is turned upside down. As time passes, Joanne thinks the child has drowned in the Bay, so holds a memorial service and tries to go on with her life. David, however, thinks the child is either alive or dead by the hand of the another and he begins his search. Characters in the book include a Somali family who want to buy a family fishing boat, the motherís ex-fiancéí (Blake) who is hanging around, various criminals who cross the path of a medical doctor and Davidís ill father. 
Davidís inner thoughts are shown in italics as he tries to figure out what to do in the situation no parent wants to find themselves in. He does what normal parents would do and that is to continue to have hope. Joanne, on the other hand, gives up easily and doesnít seem to understand her husband at all. This is the schism that divides them so when Blake, the ex-fiancéí shows up with concern, the words ďmove onĒ have new meaning. The story is sprinkled with hints as to what could have happened from another child missing to roving mischief-makers to going too close to water to kidnapping to just plain murder. The Somali father and daughter, who are refugeeís and want to buy Davidís familyís fishing boat, are misleading. Why are they there? The daughter is described as beautiful and kind, but that is all. We donít get enough information to care about either one. When David suspects a child killer who is already in prison, he conveniently gets a job in the prison to talk to the man and gain information. I felt manipulated.
The cliffhanger ends-of-chapters didnít always make me want to turn the page. At over 330 pages, the book felt long. Kraus has a colorful style of writing and draws the reader in, but with too many strings in the mix. Of all the characters in the book, I did not get an attachment for Joanne, the child's mother, or comprehend a certain improbable situation.

Copyright 2009 Marie Asner


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