Verdict: Richardson delivers the goods in BLOOD MONEY with his uncanny ability to glimpse into the brutality and instability not only of the criminal mind, but also a darkness in the heroes.
What begins when trucker, Greg Beem (AKA Beemer), is pulled over to assist a patrolman at the scene of a car accident, becomes an entangled web of decoys and deception involving state and government personnel and private parties each with their own personal agenda for taking part in the manhunt.
BLOOD MONEY is a superbly executed thriller. The title plays on the meaning of money at the cost of another’s life, but also blood ties and the fact that Beemer, an ex-Marine, is transporting a rig filled with stolen cargo – frozen blood. When a young patrolman waves down Beemer, down to help him rescue two victims of a car accident, Beemer’s fear of having his stolen rig and cargo discovered allows the “Idiot” inside him to take over the situation.
Author Doug Richardson’s characters are dissected to reveal their complexities, strengths and vulnerabilities. The patrolman’s brother, Lucky Dey, driven by anger and grief, is the first to get involved in the chase that points him towards his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles, where he not only enlists the help of some tough Sheriffs deputies; but is also assigned a ‘babysitter’ of sorts in the form of Detective Lydia Gonzalez with the LAPD. But Lucky is not the only one who wants a taste of the killer’s blood. Among the others vying for a chance to catch the killer are: mild-mannered custom pool contractor Rey Palomino; media-mogul Conrad Ellis, crazed by insomnia and grief over the death of his daughter wants answers and revenge; Federal Attorney Lilly Zoller, and her “unbridled ambition”, who is enlisted by the powerful Ellis to help him get the details of the case as they unfold; and FBI Special Agent Dulaney Little. Richardson’s engrossing plot deftly interweaves the personalities of the players with the intricacies of police procedurals, government bureaucracies and personal vendettas.
Spare dialogue and clipped scenes packed with action and psychological tension move the story along at a brisk pace, while Richardson’s language is concise and his images fresh and palpable: “Damn she was pretty. A gear head’s wet dream. Too bad she was stolen.” Also, “As he regripped the gun, the tendons on his wrist worked under his skin like piano strings.”
Richardson delivers the goods in BLOOD MONEY with his uncanny ability to glimpse into the brutality and instability not only of the criminal mind, but also a darkness in the heroes.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader