Book review, Scott Cumming

They say never judge a book by its cover, and to them, I say behold the cover of Jesse Hilson’s novel Blood Trip and tell me the cover doesn’t make you want to instantly dive in. Add to that, quotes on the back cover from Punk Noir nobility in Max Thrax and HLR and I was more than DTF with this one. Really feel bad that I read this one on my e-reader and need to pick up the paperback.

Mike is a two-time loser resentful of his ex-wife’s new husband and for reasons that are barely clear to him, let alone us, he decides to hire someone to kill him. The plan is to lure Allen to Atlantic City under the auspices that Mike’s daughter, Julie, has been kidnapped. It’s a quality setup reminiscent of many a noir classic and I love that we’re never really clear on why Mike wants Allen killed other than a fanciful notion that his ex-wife will consider taking him back that I don’t even think Mike is convinced by.

This is a book balanced on the egos of men, but carried by an array of strong female characters as we follow Julie’s Spring Break misadventures in Atlantic City and later the perspective of Mike’s ex-wife, Wendy as well as a Detective and crook who come into play later in the book. That is my one criticism that these strong female characters didn’t get to follow through on their promise and drifted from the story as it went on. Even Mike’s girlfriend, Renee, seems as though she has an exciting backstory somewhere in the background.

Hilson has a skill for keeping you on your toes and throws in the unexpected at turns to keep the narrative fresh. It is sometimes just a small wrinkle, but it helped keep me unbalanced when reading and explored fresh avenues of suspense.

Hilson has created a noir novel that should be able to stand out from the crowd with a stunningly beautiful cover, a classic premise with weird and unexpected twists and turns and strongly envisioned characters who want to know more about even if it doesn’t come to fruition.