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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Blood Passage by Malcolm Pierce taught me a lesson: don't judge a book by its cover. Let me clarify that. I have never been drawn to fiction based on military experience, soldiers, murder and mayhem on the high seas. But Blood Passage gripped me in a way few fiction books do. Talk about being surprised. The story line is intriguing: a former military man, Brian Francisco, wakes up on board an oil tanker and has no idea how he got there. His last recollection is falling asleep in his city apartment with his beloved dog, Danny, nearby. Bit by bit, he realizes he's been kidnapped and is now being held under armed guard and is out in the middle of the ocean somewhere, with no hope of escape. Worst of all, he has no idea why he has been kidnapped, where he is headed, and if he survives the voyage, what will become of him once he's on land. Malcolm Pierce takes his protagonist, his enemies, and the reader on an unforgettable ride. The reasons for why this all happened will surprise you, as it did the protagonist.
What makes Blood Passage so good? Is it just the clever plot? Not just that. Malcolm Pierce is one skillful writer. He keeps chapters short: super short. He alternates the chapters between his protagonist's thoughts and plans, to those of the ship's captain and his daughter. This necessitates changing the point of view from which the story is told: from first person to third person. Under the pen of a less skilled writer, this could create confusion for the reader. But not so with Malcolm Pierce.
Furthermore, despite the hell in which the protagonist has found himself, every so often he reflects on his situation with a subtle, self-deprecating sense of humor. While this tough military man fights for his life by killing people all over the ship, he is simultaneously deeply upset that he has had to take lives to save his own. And once in a while, in the midst of it all, he thinks of his beloved dog and wonders if he'll ever see him again. The reader loves Francisco for his humanity. He is real. This is great characterization. As the reader's tension mounts to an all time high by the ending, Malcolm Pierce brings Blood Passage to a satisfying close. What has Malcolm Pierce got in store in his next book, if he's writing one? I can't wait to read it.