Bloodman by Robert Pobi

Bloodman by Robert Pobi
Publisher: Arrow Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Horror
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

FBI contractor Jake Cole deciphers the language of murderers by reconstructing three-dimensional crime scene models in his head, a talent that has left his nerves frayed and his psyche fragile. Jake returns to Montauk, New York, for the first time in a quarter of a century when his father, a renowned painter, lights himself ablaze and crashes through a plate-glass window. Once home, Jake is pulled into a gruesome local homicide investigation that echoes his mother’s murder three decades earlier.

As he sifts through the detritus of his father’s madness, Jake discovers thousands of seemingly meaningless paintings stacked in the studio – a bizarre trail of dust-covered breadcrumbs the painter left as he tumbled down the rabbit hole of dementia. Breadcrumbs that Jake believes lead to the killer.

With the help of Sheriff Dan Hauser – a man scrambling to prepare the seaside community for the arrival of a catastrophic hurricane – Jake Cole sets out to find the seemingly unstoppable force of malevolence known as the Bloodman.
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A unique and disquieting thriller that redefines the genre, Bloodman will leave you reeling long after its operatic finale.

FBI agent Jake Cole is back home on Long Island to try and clear up matters for his estranged father. Between his father’s accident and Alzheimer’s Jake wants nothing more than to sort out what sort of living accommodations would be best for the elderly man, then Jake wants to return to his wife, son and regular life back in New York and to put this – along with the memories from his past – behind him. His plans are foiled though when a stomach-churning murder of a woman and child only a few miles away has him being drawn in to investigate as the only nearby and available FBI officer.

I found this to be an amazingly written and incredibly intense read. First up though I need to insist that this book won’t be to every reader’s taste and while the first half is more Mystery/Suspense the second half leans a bit more strongly toward being a Thriller and even mildly a horror style of novel. I don’t feel personally that this is a story for the faint of heart. While not really a horror – it’s not gory or overly descriptive and certainly it doesn’t use the murders or scenes in a titillating manner nor is it descriptive with the gruesome scenes – this book did give me the creeps when I was reading it late into the night and I’m pretty sure it won’t be enjoyed by readers looking for a more straight mystery style of novel.

That said, I found this book very well written. The writing style appealed to me as being easily read and relatable, I really enjoyed the complexities of the main characters and the first half of the book really is a more “regular” mystery/FBI/police style of story. By the half-way mark when I started to get an inkling of the plot not being quite as simple as I expected, the characters not precisely as they were portrayed and I finally cottoned on to the hidden snippets of what lay beneath the surface it was far too late for me. I was absolutely hooked – both on the plot, the storyline and the characters – and even though I spent all of a minute contemplating not going further I simply couldn’t put the book down and walk away. The last half of the book was quite a roller coaster and while I regret nothing, I wish I’d read a review that had at least suggested readers maybe read this book in daylight hours and not deep into the night. I might not have listened to such a suggestion, but it’s one I would have appreciated nevertheless.

I thought this book was intense. While there are tons of serial killer vs the FBI and local police in a small, deserted town style of stories out there this book had a number of twists and turns that made it feel unique and fresh to me. This isn’t like any other book I can recall reading before. Indeed a number of the twists took me totally by surprise and even though a few of them I knew I was missing something (or I knew there was more going on that I could recognize) when everything unwound I was still gobsmacked even as the pieces all fell together. This is a wonderful story in that the author carefully leads you through the pages and then when it all clicks together you can see it all for what it is and it totally makes sense. There’s no dangling plotlines or guessing what was meant – everything is very clearly and explicitly laid bare by the end and while amazing it’s as scary as it is thrilling. I really found this story to be akin to a roller coaster, half terrifying but equal parts exhilarating and at the end you’re not sure if you want to have a lie down or get straight back on and do it all over again immediately.

Readers looking for something addictive, different and really well written should love this book. It’s a strong thriller/mystery and bordering (in my opinion) on horror but well, well worth the price of admission. I probably won’t be reading this again at night-time, but for sure I’ll be reading it again just to catch all those small things I missed the first time around. It’s an excellent story – it just won’t be for everyone.

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