Montauk, Long Island is in the path of a storm. Hurricane Dylan is a Category 5 monster which leaves unprecedented death and destruction in its wake. It’s a hurricane of truly historic proportions… and it’s not what the residents of Montauk should really be afraid of.
Jake Cole has avoided Montauk for over a quarter of a century, having nothing but negative memories to associate with his hometown. It’s where his father, renowned painter Jacob Coleridge, a man from whom he’s deeply estranged, still lives. It’s also where Jake’s mother was murdered.
Having spent a significant portion of his life battling the demons of alcohol and drug addiction, Jake now battles monsters of a different sort as an independent contractor for the FBI. Though not artistically inclined in the literal sense, Jake can nevertheless paint an exquisite picture. One only he can see, Jake has the unique ability to recreate with disturbing, haunting accuracy every detail of a murder in his mind after viewing the scene of the crime.
Now forced to return home to sort out what to do with his father, who’s in the hospital following an accident brought on by his creeping dementia, Jake is pressed into duty by the local Sheriff’s office when the bodies of a woman and young boy are discovered in a vacant rental property. The victims were brutally beaten, then skinned alive. It’s the work of a killer Jake has encountered once before, one who has a stranglehold on Jake’s past that he must break if he’s ever to have a future.
First and foremost a warning; Bloodman is not a book for those who are disturbed by detailed descriptions of murder, including that of a child. Author Robert Pobi has strategically chosen to not pull any punches in his presentation of the killings in Bloodman, and the depth of his recounting of Jake’s mental reconstruction of the crimes may be too much for some. Similarly, there are a couple of scenes which depict (consensual) rough sexual encounters, but they are brief and ultimately relevant to both character development and the book’s overall resolution.
As for the story, Jake’s father is not merely window dressing used to get him back in town so Pobi could set him on the hunt for a serial killer. As the saying goes, there is a method to Jacob Coleridge’s madness. During his brief periods of lucidity Coleridge makes cryptic comments about a Bloodman, and when Jake finds thousands of previously unknown paintings in his father’s studio he begins to believe there is a message hidden among them, one which is key to solving the murders. It puts Jake in the position of trying to deconstruct not just the psychology of a killer, but of kin as well. Interwoven with the main storyline are updates on the growth and approach of Hurricane Dylan, which serve as literal representation of the growing danger and impending showdown which is destined to take place in Montauk.
Pobi has unquestionably swung for the fences with Bloodman, and as with any big swing it’s either going to end in a home run or a strikeout. In this case which that is will depend on the individual reader’s willingness to surrender to the story. Some may find it hard to buy a former drug addict who has the text of the twelfth canto of Dante’s Inferno tattooed over 90% of his body working with the FBI in any capacity, even as an independent contractor. Those willing to accept Jake’s complicated, unconventional background and unique skill, however, will find an engaging psychological thriller in the style of early Thomas Harris.
Bloodman is available from Thomas & Mercer (ISBN: 978-1612182131).