Doug Richardson was introduced to me as not just an author, but a well-known screenwriter. With film credits that include Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Bad Boys, and Hostage, I was definitely curious to give his latest novel a read.
Blood Money is a book that starts out with a bang. Greg Breem gets flagged down by a nervous cop at the scene of an early morning accident - one that, it turns out, the cop himself caused. The problem is, Beemer is driving a stolen truck, and really can't afford to be conscripted into a rescue operation. So, he nonchalantly shoots the cop dead, stares into the eyes of the woman trapped in the wreckage, and then tosses a flare into the pool of gasoline. Problem solved, witnesses eliminated . . . except, that dead cop's brother is the kind of cop who isn't about to sit around while others track down leads, and the young woman's father is a man with both the money and the power to enact his revenge.
Yeah, it's gonna be that kind of ride.
The story races along at a great pace, driven by intersecting plot lines that keep ratcheting up the white-knuckle tension. The dialogue is crisp and efficient, entirely suitable to a genre that's more about action than words. When characters speak, you really get inside their heads, where they jostle you this way and that, trying to wrest control of your loyalties. There are some great one-liners, but this isn't a cheesy read, full of throw-away lines - when the dialogue is memorable, it's because it sets the scene and captures the characters.
As for the characters, none of them are particularly likeable, but you can understand their motivations, and even sympathize with their primal (albeit selfish) needs. Richardson develops them just enough to flesh them out, to establish them as individuals, and not just as players filling a role. I kept waiting for that inevitable maudlin moment, the one that excuses all the violence and shifts the blame to something in the past, but the story never falls into that trap. Richardson remains true to his characters, just as he remains committed to the story he began to tell in the first explosive chapter.
Not exactly a feel-good, heroic read, but one that's fun, compelling, and entirely readable. Definitely worth checking out.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins