The Chief of Internal Security for New England’s professional basketball team, the Highlanders, is found dead in his office, with a suicide note and conflicting evidence of foul play. Refusing to believe he would have had reason to kill himself, and frustrated with the slowness of the police force’s progress on the case, Johnny’s widow, Roseanne, and best friend, Randy, launch a renegade investigation of their own. Aided by Roseanne’s brother Graham, a fiercely protective loose cannon, they dig up evidence that Johnny, just previous to the date of his death, was running his own undercover investigation into the drug overdose of a star player for the Highlanders. The amateur detectives find themselves mixed up with a ruthless gang of mobsters, many of whom are responsible for the drug trade-and a string of violent murders – from Washington, D.C. to Boston. When their quest takes a gruesome and deadly turn, the three wonder if they’re in over their heads. A gritty tale in the vein of Dennis Lehane and Robert B. Parker, Splattered Blood keeps readers guessing, with suspense and retribution on every page. (Amazon.com)
Splattered blood is not an image I would like to hold in my mind. But then again, anything to do with blood makes me a little queasy – if I think about it too long! So, why would I read a book entitled “Splattered Blood”? Well, firstly, it is written by a familiar name in the Blog Book Review world – Michael A. Draper. And secondly, I like mysteries. It is as simple as that!
I knew I was hooked by page 3! The central character telling the story, Randy, immediately came across as very likeable. The kind of character you root for when the fights break out. There are two other main characters – Roseanne and her brother Graham. Roseanne has just become a widow, which immediately draws on the reader’s emotional side. The author succeeds in doing this, without turning the situation sappy. Graham comes across as a pretty rough character, which means the author must somehow turn the reader to Graham’s side – at least allowing the reader to accept Graham as is. Through Randy’s viewpoint, Graham kind of grows on us!
Michael A. Draper
I admire Mike Draper’s writing style. It is clear, crisp, and defined. It moves the story along at a quick pace, without sacrificing character or plot development. As I read, I was reminded of the mystery writers of the past: Raymond Chandler, Georges Simenon, Mickey Spillane. Also, Draper’s writing is not overloaded with excess scenery description or excess dialogue.
In the first part of the book, I wondered if the plot was moving too fast, if it might make the storyline less believable. After all, for all intents and purposes, our three driving characters were not professional crime solvers. Yet, here they were trying to solve a crime that appeared to have links to some type of organized crime. Fortunately, Draper’s writing made the roles of the characters believable. Draper accomplished this by not being afraid of pushing the boundaries of our main characters’ drive and motivation.
There were times when the descriptive writing got a little too descriptive for my liking, and I must admit reading a few pages through half closed eyes, blocking out the small amount of ‘gory stuff’ that the book included. Other readers might not call these violent scenes ‘gory’, but to the faint of heart – like me – and although very limited in the novel – it pushed my boundaries! I was also glad that the offensive language was very limited, as too much of it can ruin a book for me. While I did skim over the language once or twice, most readers will not be at all troubled by a small amount of ‘strong’ language.
There were a few times where the plot reminded me of a few tricks used by Agatha Christie – my most favourite author. And I will admit to being caught by Draper’s twists and turns – which, of course, added to the mystery.
This book was a steady read for me, without any evidence of a dragging storyline. If you are looking for a new mystery novel that will engage you and hold your interest from beginning to end, “Splattered Blood” is the book for you.
My delight in this novel included reading how the inclusion of my hometown – Kingston, Ontario, Canada – fit into the storyline! Mike Draper even found a way to include the name of his town in the story – Guilford. I always enjoy those small delights!
This is Michael Draper’s first novel, and I hope it will not be his last.
This is one of the books that I purchased for my own enjoyment, with the intention of adding a Book Review.
Mike Draper's Cover Inspiration
So, in keeping with the theme of my blog, where is the Joy in a mystery novel, that deals with organized crime and murder?
I must go with Joy being found within the writing style of a new author. A style which does not get entangled with a complicated plot, but rather, sits underneath the characters, moving them forward.