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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Not By Blood

Narrator: Jennifer Jill Araya

Dreamscape Media

ISBN: 9781639103331

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Publication Date: 07/18/2022

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

In the tradition of Harlan Coben and Karin Slaughter comes Chris Narozny’s Not by Blood, a tense and twisty debut thriller about the extraordinary measures one woman will take to save her family.

When Tina Evans gets a call from her brother in the middle of the night, she doesn’t think much of it; she’s been fielding distress calls from Bill for the last twenty years, ever since the day their father killed their mother.

At first, this call seems just like all the others: Bill’s holed up in a Brooklyn drug den and needs her to come rescue him. But when Tina gets there, her brother’s nowhere to be found. Instead, she discovers the body of a private detective hidden in the junk heap out back. He’s been shot to death, and his gun is missing from its holster.

Tina’s about to dial 911 when she receives a three-letter text message from a number she doesn’t recognize: “Shh...”

Tina doesn’t believe in coincidence—the death of this detective and her brother’s disappearance must be related. But how? Could it be her father pulling the strings from his prison cell? And is she willing to risk her own freedom—and her life—to uncover the truth?

My Review

Chris Narozny's first twisty solo debut thriller of trauma, family secrets, addiction, violence, and memory, NOT BY BLOOD, features a woman who goes to extraordinary lengths to save her family.

Tina (Teen) Evans, EMT nurse (married to Tom), and son Aiden (age 6) knew something was very wrong with Bill Morgan (Billy), her brother.

There were only two things her brother couldn't do without. Two things he needed to make it through the day: heroin and a little black book. The first: he knew how to get at a moment's notice; the second: he never let out of his sight.

Tina and her biological brother, Bill faced a massive trauma in their childhood. Their father was convicted of murdering their mother, and Tina was sent to live with a foster family and Bill, a group home.

When Tina receives a call from her brother in the middle of the night, which is not unusual since she has been receiving Bill's calls for the last twenty years since the day their father killed their mother.

However, when she arrives to the Brooklyn apartment, Bill is not there. Instead, there is the dead body of a private detective, Jake Bickert —hidden in the junk behind the apartment, shot to death, and his gun is missing.

When she is about to dial 911, she receives a vibrating text message from a private number. "Shhhhhh."

Bill left his behind his sketchpad. Was this a message from him? Her husband accused her of always choosing her brother over her own family. They had security and he was tired of her putting her junkie brother over them.

Does her missing brother have a connection to the death of the detective? Why was her son left at home alone, and where was Tom? He would never leave their son alone at home. Why was Tom calling this private detective?

Tom is a philanthropist with a Harvard pedigree, was heir to a real estate fortune, and was an architect who designed and funded the construction of schools, hospitals, and community centers.

Then she discovers her husband is missing and has been hit by a car in an accident. (was it an accident)? What do the detective, her brother, and her husband have in common, and how is this linked? Could it be her father pulling strings from prison?

However, things are not as they appear, and the author keeps you guessing until the end with this action-packed suspense thriller with a jaw-dropping twist! A riveting tale of sibling loyalty and deadly family secrets.

A well-written complex chilling family mystery. I look forward to reading more from his talented author!

Thanks to #CrookedLaneBooks and #NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: July 18, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars


“Well-rounded and complex . . . Laura Lippman fans will be eager for more.”—Publishers Weekly

“Chris Narozny ratchets up the tension one agonizing notch at a time in this psychological thriller about trauma, addiction, and memory. In a world of secrets lurking just beyond reach, EMT Tina Evans must face an array of personal demons, including her own broken family. Not By Blood reads like a midnight ride in a speeding ambulance, where your life is on the line and the most dangerous people may be the ones closest to home.”

—Christopher Swann, award-winning author of A Fire in the Night and the Faulkner Family series

“Not By Blood is an unforgettable novel about the legacy of violence and addiction, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we go to protect the ones we love. Narozny writes with confidence and subtle grace, yet still manages to punch you in the emotional gut. This is the debut everyone will be talking about.”

—Alex Finlay, author of The Night Shift

“Utterly compulsive and brilliantly plotted, this tale of sibling loyalty and deadly family secrets digs in its claws on page one and doesn’t let go. An adrenaline-fueled, nerve-shredding thrill ride.”

—Heather Chavez, author of No Bad Deed, Blood Will Tell, And Before She Finds Me

“With an unflinching look at addiction and the aftermath of trauma, Narozny’s debut thriller is dark, tense, and will keep you guessing through to a perfectly crafted ending—one where every seemingly loose end suddenly falls solidly into place. This is sure to be one of the best debuts of the year.”

—Edwin Hill, author of The Secrets We Share

About the Author

Chris is a critically-acclaimed writer who has co-authored four New York Times bestsellers with James Patterson: "Night Sniper," a novella anthologized in The Family Lawyer; the true-crime thrillers Murder, Interrupted and Murder Beyond the Grave, which served as tie-ins with an ID Network series; and the novel Three Women Disappear. Most recently, he wrote a novelization of Richard Connell’s classic short story “A Dangerous Game” for Milo Ventimiglia and Divide Pictures, and a comic-crime novel titled Last Supper for MadRiver Pictures.

In addition to his work as co-author and ghostwriter, Chris has published successful novels of his own, including Jonah Man, told from the perspective of struggling vaudevillians at the turn of the 20th century, and The Exiled, an upmarket thriller whose setting alternates between New York City and rural New Mexico. Kirkus described The Exiled as “edgy and satisfying,” and said that “a sequel would be most welcome.” Publishers Weekly gave Jonah Man a starred review and called the novel “A classic whodunit ripe with spare, snappy prose and riddled with period language… a show-stopper that deserves a standing ovation.”

​Chris holds an MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Denver. He has taught creative writing and literature at both private and public colleges, and has written, presented, and published numerous academic papers and articles. Before returning to graduate school, he worked as an in-house development editor for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, helping academic authors shape their manuscripts for the college-textbook market.

As a ghostwriter, Chris’s sole objective is to realize his client’s vision. Having written everything from mass-market thrillers to literary novels and academic papers, he prides himself on his ability to adapt to a given genre or voice.

Chris has lived in Normandy, Paris, and Brooklyn, and currently resides in Denver with his wife, the author Nina Shope. WEBSITE



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