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Blood Men by Paul Cleave
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Blood Men (2010)

by Paul Cleave

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What's it About?
Edward Hunter has it all—a beautiful wife and daughter, a great job, a bright future . . . and a very dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer was caught, convicted, and locked away in New Zealand’s most hellish penitentiary. That man was Edward’s father. Edward has struggled his entire life to put the nightmares of his childhood behind him. But a week before Christmas, violence once again makes an unwelcome appearance in his world. Is Edward destined to be just like his father, to become a man of blood?

What Did I Think?
I loved the book ...however it is diffidently not for everyone. Most people that enjoy true-crime type mysteries expect to sometimes find some really graphic and gruesome scenes when it comes to the murders. "Blood Men" had more than it's share and that alone will put a lot of people off.

It lost a half star with me because I lost patience with the police. They were working against a killer's very real time schedule but seemed to drag their feet at every turn. Otherwise the main character... Edward...was pitied...applauded...and encouraged by the reader through out this madhouse adventure as he almost single handed searched the town of Christchurch for his young wife's killer.

Read it with caution...but if you enjoy this type of mystery...by all means read it. ( )
  Carol420 | Aug 23, 2017 |
I love this series! This was a page-turning wild ride for me. This book features Schroder as the main investigator but what I like about this series is that all the books are set in the same "world" not always having the same lead characters but others always pop in for cameo appearances. The son of a serial killer gets caught in a bank robbery where his wife is killed. This starts Edward on a terrifying journey he has no control over. The plot is a little far-fetched for this one but that did nothing to stop my enjoyment. It was a whirlwind read from start to finish which I could hardly put down except to sleep briefly. ( )
  ElizaJane | Aug 14, 2016 |
It's ironic I ended up bringing this won book on a won trip. We had won an all paid for vacation to the Texas Frightmare Movie Convention, courtesy of the amazing Rue Morgue Magazine. Yes, really, we won the grand prize last year! I also won this book, Blood Men, through a Goodreads giveaway. We wanted to bring a book with us for downtime in the hotel room and on the plane trip over.

I made a mistake of bringing such a riveting book with me! Because, folks, it's one of those. The plot is tragic and like watching a train wreck, you don't want to put it down. You're on the edge of your seat wondering, hoping, watching, thinking of all the possibilities that might happen next. You just NEED to keep reading. The bank robbery at the beginning was horrifying and sad, and once you've forgiven the book for some tears, it really grows on you and flys off.

The middle was strongly written and riveting. I was anxious to see what would happen to the main character Edward and find out all the revelations about his father in prison. Cleave takes you step by step through different situations that are either heart-wrenching or heart-stopping. The suspense is brutal and this is why I struggled putting it down.

Characterization clearly worked amazingly well. All characters were very life-like and realistic, making it easy to care about what disasters than ran into, hoping they'd avoid the ultimate meltdown. I even cared about the "bad guys" because they fascinated me so much. Not sympathetic exactly, but you still ended up caring about the events surrounding them. The psychological twisting, growth, and angst was extreme.

I ended up loving this dark, intricate book. It pushes the boundaries of normalcy and sets the reader into a troubled seat, witnessing horrifying but realistic events unfolding. You fall into the minds of the character so well you feel his pain and angst as he struggles to stay above the water line. I'll definitely have to check out more of Cleave's work. I did end up giving four stars rather than five, surprising myself, because at the end the book started letting me down a bit with some of the actions and turnabouts that took place.

Brilliantly written with an addictive pace, amazing characterization and heart-wrenching scenarios, highly recommended for all readers. The darkness will speak to those who like horror, the suspense and thrills are high enough for any suspense fan, even mystery fans should like wondering what will happen next, and there's a high amount of drama infused within to satisfy drama buffs as the story is quite emotional. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Note: This book is part of the Christchurch Mysteries series but it works just fine as a stand alone. It does reference the main character in the Theodore Tate mysteries in a few small ways and chronologically, happens after Book 1 (Cemetery Lake).

Edward Hunter lost his father when he was 9 years old. The man was a serial killer and he was finally caught and imprisoned. Edward has tried very hard to forget him ever since and be his own person. Now, decades later he has a wife (Jody) and a young daughter (Sam) and a successful job (as an accountant). But a bank robbery turned bloody will bring cruel violence back into Edward’s life, affecting those he loves the most. Once again, the ugly question of whether or not Edward is like his father will be raised.

I’m totally going to love on this book. I really enjoyed it, even more so than Cemetery Lake. Set in modern day Christchurch, New Zealand, Edward is a very interesting character and we get to see him during his worst hours. I really felt for the guy. First he has this horrible family history that’s full of tragedy. Then he has is own little demon to contend with, one he thought he had beaten down many years ago. Finally, he has the worst week of his life during the length of this book. He goes through quite the range of emotions.

The author pulls in characters from the Theodore Tate novels, specifically Detective Schroeder. He’s cynical and sharp and married to doing the right thing (and doing it by the books as much as possible). In fact, the book opens with him and his guys looking into the death of a man in a trench coat and large suction cups. Yeah, I giggled too. Schroeder is quickly pulled off this case to attend to a bank robbery, the same one that Edward is caught in the middle of.

After the robbery is all said and done, Edward feels he must find the bandits. His father, who is still in prison, gives him a call and asks him to visit. That really starts the slippery slope for Edward. What follows is a mix of righteous payback, a struggle against Edward’s baser desires, and Edward coming to terms with who he is (including his relationship with his father). Be prepared for a respectable body count on this one.

Some animals suffer in this book. The author provides one clear, detailed example and then alludes to the others without giving specifics. These episodes are used sparingly and definitely add to the character’s dimension; these scenes aren’t here merely to up the horror level of the book.

The story held my attention all the way through and I finished it in three days. The novel brings up questions of inner evil and what constitutes free will versus a mental illness. The main characters are well done. There’s some interesting twists that kept me guessing as to where the author would take the story.

I won a copy of this book from The Audio Book Reviewer) with no strings attached.

Narration: Paul Ansdell was a great voice for both Detective Schroeder and Edward Hunter. I liked his slightly gravelly voice for the older, jaded Schroeder. He did a great job of portraying Edward’s many emotions throughout the novel. His female voices were believable. I wonder, as I did with Cemetery Lake, why no New Zealand accents? Perhaps this was the publisher’s direction, but I don’t really know. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Apr 24, 2016 |
My original Blood Men audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

I’ve read several books written by Paul Cleave now and enjoyed each one, but Blood Men was the darkest and toughest one to listen to so far. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but I’ve never felt so sad for one of Cleave’s characters before.

Blood Men is the story of Edward Hunter, a happily married accountant with a young daughter. All that changes when Edward and his wife happen to be in a bank when a robbery takes place. Within minutes, Edward’s entire life disintegrates and he has to face up to his past. Edward is the son of a serial killer who was imprisoned for killing prostitutes when Edward was a young boy. Having been under scrutiny for most of his life and in the public’s eye as the son of a monster, Edward was always adamant that he was nothing like his father, but if circumstances changed, could Edward become a blood man like his Dad?

Paul Cleave always manages to surprise me. I’ve come to expect his tales as gritty and disturbing, which is just the way I like it, but then he drops some brutal twists that still manage to shock me although I read plenty of dark thrillers and should be used to it by now.

Blood Men was awarded the Ngaio Marsh prize for best crime novel in 2011. It’s part of Cleave’s Christchurch Noir Crime series. It’s a standalone novel, but some characters also appear in Cleave’s other thrillers set in Christchurch, such as Detective Schroder. Most of them are now available on audio narrated by Paul Ansdell, and I intend to work my way through them, as I love Cleave’s writing, his dark humor, and Paul Ansdell’s excellent narration. Mr. Ansdell really brings the story to life and takes on the personality of Edward expressing all the emotions expertly. Great pacing as well. There were no production issues.

Blood Men contains plenty of violence and cruelty and hence will not be to everyone’s liking. If you’re looking for an enjoyable, feel-good thriller, this isn’t it. However, if you like really dark and really twisty, suspenseful and out of the ordinary, then I can highly recommend this.

Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Mar 11, 2016 |
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Edward Hunter has it all--a beautiful wife and daughter, a great job, a bright future? and a very dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer was caught, convicted, and locked away in the country's most hellish of penitentiaries. That man was Edward's father. Edward has struggled his entire life to put the nightmares of his childhood behind him. But a week before Christmas, violence once again makes an unwelcome appearance into his world. Suddenly he's going to need the help of his father, a man he hasn't seen since he was a boy. Is Edward destined to be just like him, to become a man of blood? - from the publisher.… (more)

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