Book Review: Bloodstorm by Sam Millar

bloodstormBloodstorm by Sam Millar is a good, solid and enjoyable PI novel that is competently told. A reader venturing into Karl Kanes neck of the woods will quickly fall into it’s rhythms as there a number of recognizable PI tropes not the least of which is Kane’s constant smart ass dialog.

One of the calling cards of these books is how dark they are. But ultimately they just aren’t. Some of the scenes are more visceral and perhaps gory then most other PI books but they don’t venture too far past scenes we have seen in other novels.

As a character Karl Kane is a bit of a cipher. Almost a bit hollow. On the surface he feels complete but if you dig a little more you come away wondering why something feels off.

Kane is a character with as traumatic a past as we’ve ever seen but his trauma doesn’t manifest itself in any recognizable way and affect his adult life. He is a smart ass but this isn’t a defense mechanism to keep people away since he is involved in two relationships (a long time best friend and a love interest) and though he is divorced he at least maintains telephone contact with his college age daughter. He also doesn’t appear to display any sexual side effects. He really isn’t a loner and he doesn’t have any alcohol or substance abuse problems. So no demons and no side effects (psychological, physical or otherwise). The question then becomes is this a daring swerve of genre conventions or inconsistent character development? The back story certainly serves to flesh out the character but if you extrapolate the background data given you come up with a very different version of the adult Karl Kane that exists in the current timeline of the novel. I hope that others who have read the book will chime in.

To those who plan on reading this don’t read the back cover “synopsis”. It lays out the main characters back story rather then the plot. Millar scatters the back story throughout the book, saving a revelation until the end. If you read the back cover then you’ll know it all up front.

I have the second book here and will read it at some point but don’t feel any great rush to do so. It should be interesting to see Kane in action in future novels because given his backstory he has the potential to be a really interesting, modern crime fiction character.

Ultimately Bloodstorm provides one with an enjoyable afternoon of reading but isn’t quite the dark bill of goods that were expected.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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