Book Review | Three Drops of Blood (ARC)

I received a digital advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Three Drops of Blood by Gretchen McNeil. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.

In Three Drops of Blood, Kate is dealing with a lot. Her first acting job, a popular show on Netflix, was just canceled after a scandal involving her co-star and their much older director. Her parents have asked she start paying rent, despite her not being sure where her next paycheck is coming from. Her friends are drifting away from her. So, generally, life feels rough for her. She gets a boring after-hours office job at her friend’s law firm, which is where she sees something strange. Across the way, she sees a businesswoman through the window. Over the next few days, her activities fascinate Kate, but things escalate—and quickly. When Kate sees a double murder, she is horrified, but she cannot get anyone to believe her. And as she learns more about this businesswoman, she begins to think there is more to the story, and that she herself might be in danger.

In other words, this is a contemporary young adult take on Rear Window (my favorite Hitchcock movie), so I had to read it!

So to start with, I did like Kate as a protagonist. I really felt for her, as so many obstacles to her goal (to become a professional actress) kept popping up. She’s clever and determined, and I was rooting for her to succeed.

On a related note, I also really did not like her parents. I think the dynamic they had with Kate was awful. Even if they’re worried about her financial security and had wanted a different path for her, their reaction to her career goals is immature and petty, and I don’t think it was resolved well enough. There’s only one conversation between Kate and her mother that signaled any progress, but that was not nearly enough. Or maybe I’ve been watching too much Cinema Therapy on YouTube (there’s no such thing as too much of that, though, so never mind).

I also do not think that the plot and subplot were well integrated. Kate’s career drama and her witnessing of the murder (which happened farther into the book than I expected) felt pretty disparate. There is one plot twist that links the two toward the end, but it was, for me, flimsy. At the beginning of the book especially, this reads more like a modern YA drama story, so the turn to murder mystery is quite unexpected. I was interested in both storylines, but I think they should have been intertwined more smoothly.

There are some decent plot twists, particularly the scene where the killer realizes that Kate has been watching (though it can’t possibly compare to the moment Raymond Burr looks into the camera in the original film). I also thought the climax was pretty exciting, with decent tension and high stakes. And the way it’s resolved is pretty good. Well, the mystery, not the stuff with her parents, but I’ve already discussed that.

There’s also a romantic subplot, which is fine. It’s nothing new from YA novels, but I didn’t dislike Kate’s love interest. I mean, he’s no Grace Kelly as Lisa, but he’s pretty sweet and helpful. And I liked how he became involved in the murder investigation, which helped showcase how his and Kate’s skills complement each other.

In the end, though, Three Drops of Blood was only average. It’s a fine take on a classic movie in a modern setting, but it’s not better than what it’s retelling. The characters are decent, but nothing extraordinary. And the way the murder mystery combined with Kate’s everyday life/career troubles made for a disjointed reading experience at times. So while I did enjoy aspects of this, and certain twists were very clever, I think it could have been much better overall.

Three Drops of Blood is available as of today, March 21st, 2023!

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