Simon and Schuster have been beating the drums in praise of Montreal author Robert Pobi’s debut work, Bloodman, and no wonder: it’s a compelling, layered, gripping novel that can hold its own with the likes of Thomas Harris (of Hannibal Lecter fame), Rick Mofina, Dennis Lehane, or anyone else you’d care to mention. Guaranteed to keep you up late, it’s an exciting find for thriller fans everywhere.
In Bloodman, two storms are rapidly converging on Montauk, Long Island. One involves the forces of nature. Montauk is in the crosshairs of a major hurricane, quickly gathering force and approaching the U.S. East Coast, and threatening to lay waste to the exposed community and its residents. But as the news crews move in and the locals prepare for the worst, events on the isolated peninsula are about to take a turn that even the most terrified residents cannot begin to imagine.
The other force involves the power of evil. After an absence of nearly thirty years, Jake Cole, née Jacob Coleridge Jr., has just returned to his childhood home in Montauk to deal with his father’s rapidly declining powers. A painter with an international repu-tation who’s sinking into the depths of dementia, the old man has been hospitalized after accidentally setting himself on fire and crashing through a large window to reach his swimming pool nearby. Jake is just settling in, trying to piece together his father’s recent life, when he gets a call from the local sheriff: there has been a multiple homicide only minutes away. Realizing he is out of his depth, the sheriff had contacted the FBI, who gave him Jake’s name, knowing he’s in the area. As a consultant to the feds, Jake is all too familiar with the face of murder; he’s dealt with some of the most deranged killers on the planet. Torn between the disintegration of his father’s life and the urgency of the case, Jake agrees to help the clearly traumatized law officer.
Arriving at the crime scene Cole is confronted by an appalling spectre: a woman and a child have been savagely murdered – literally skinned alive. The sheriff cannot comprehend the carnage, the sheer brutality of the crime. And adding to the anguish, Cole recognizes the killer’s signature from an earlier case. It involved his own mother, murdered when he was just a child.
In this race-against-time thriller Jake Cole must take on both the face of evil and the forces of nature to bring the series of horrific killings to a close, and before it is over old sins will come home to roost in a way that even Cole cannot begin to comprehend.
A word of warning: in places Bloodman is intensely graphic; given the plot it could hardly be otherwise. But it’s also wonderfully literate, with a gripping story line and a villain that will haunt your nightmares. A deft combination of edge-of-your-seat terror and heatbreaking pathos, Bloodman is one of the strongest debuts I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s being published in nine countries, and will generate the sort of excitement usually reserved for breakout novels by established authors.