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Reviewed by Stefan Vucak for Readers' Favorite
Being a hit man wasn’t hard for Rico — provided you played by the rules. Having to deliver a necklace of red rubies for his boss, he has the bad luck to have them taken from him by a small time gambler owing money. The boss didn’t like the news, demanding that Rico go after the chiseler. It didn’t take much detective work to ferret out that the gambler and his estranged wife had taken off for Honolulu, and that’s were Rico went. Fearing getting a bullet, the gambler called the loan shark, telling him he found the necklace and would bring it back. What he really planned was to take off with his wife for parts unknown. Landing in Honolulu, Rico catches up with the gambler and eliminates him, but the necklace is gone. He now has the local cops after him, and not much time to find the necklace. Back in Chicago, following his lead, things don’t turn out exactly as expected. Definitely not.
I found it hard not to develop a soft spot for Rico. A hit man and bone crusher, he nevertheless had a queer sense of justice, although the people he was after usually didn’t come in for a share of that. Pigeon Blood Red has some interesting twists, which Ed Duncan exploits with a lot of very good writing, overlooking the many unnecessary shifts in POV. Although a relatively simple plot, Rico’s quiet and determined way of doing business kept my interest. I often wished that Ed Duncan had devoted much more of his book to Rico rather than to the supporting cast of characters. Rico had a presence that kept the book alive. Pigeon Blood Red has a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader nodding his head with approval.