The strapline on the front of the book says it all - "Twelve hours to find the girl or he'll find her corpse ...". Nothing particularly innovative or original there then. But once I'd started reading, I was surprised to see that I couldn't put it down. In fact, I've been getting in trouble with Madhouse Daddy Mike all week because I've been reading way past the time he wanted to turn out the lights and go to sleep !
The plot follows the classic crime thriller story. Bill Smith, ageing New York PI, finds himself caught up in a machiavelic game of cat and mouse when an evil-minded face from the past bearing a grudge decides to come back and get even. Bill's partner Lydia Chin is kidnapped and he has to find and follow the cryptic clues left by his tormentor in order to save her, as well as a number of other victims thrown in to the mix to spice things up.
I loved trying to figure out the clues along with Bill and his trusty sidekicks, and was carried along by the relentless pace of the novel. The short time frame means that there are no long-winded passages of internal reflection or poetic description, it's adrenalin-fuelled action all the way. I also liked the way that the author uses modern technology such as smartphones and social networking in the plot, as it's the first time I've seen these in a crime novel, despite them being almost universally-used things now.
There are no big surprises but it's a gripping thriller that will keep you turning the pages, desperate to see it all unfold. It offers a fascinating glimpse into certain districts of New York City, particularly Chinatown, which are presumably realistic as the author was born and raised in the Bronx and is a long-time Manhattan resident.
Out For Blood, which was called On The Line in America, is one of a long line of Bill Smith/Lydia Chin novels and although it works absolutely fine as a stand-alone novel, I would have liked to delve a little deeper into the psyche and background history of Bill and Lydia. If you've read some of the earlier books in the series, I'm sure you'll understand more of the personal side of the story and may even recognise some of the other characters who pop up.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
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