Dr. David Connors is on the path of fulfilling his lifetime dreams. He is a successful doctor, within days of being made a partner in the practice he works for, his patients love him, his marriage is good, and his daughter is the light of his life. When David’s daughter, Rachel, disappears, he discovers he is capable of things he never thought possible. His intense need to find his daughter, no matter what, is a threat to his career, his marriage, his integrity and ethics, and to his soul. If Rachel is dead, can any parent find the way to forgive someone for this horrendous crime? If Rachel is still alive, can her determined father discover he in time to save her? How far would we go to get our child back? In Salty Like Blood by Harry Kraus, M.D. that question is left for each of us to answer for ourselves.
Harry Kraus is an author unfamiliar to me. When I began reading Salty Like Blood, I was reminded of another “missing child” story I read about a year ago, Stuart O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing. Kraus, like O’Nan, spends time building a sense of “what would you do?” We see everyone’s reaction to the loss of Rachel. Her mother, who suffered greatly from postpartum depression after Rachel’s birth is poised to return to the depths of despair. Her father, typical of all fathers, I believe, is a “fixer” and a “doer” and he is certain that he can succeed where the police have failed. This book succeeds because David is just so much like we imagine ourselves in the same situation. It’s easy to see how the loss of our child could turn us into obsessed searchers, and we empathize with his choices and his losses. Throughout the book, David is forced to face the worst parts of him, he searches for compassion he knows he should have, questions the faith of those around him, and sees exactly what he is capable of. But he never gives up hope. And even though the subject matter seems so hopeless, Kraus manages to infuse it with hope that we readers can share as well.