Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blood Foam by Brendan DuBois

First Sentence:  On a Sunday in the third week of November outside my half-burnt home on Tyler Beach, N.H., while attempting to nail a heavy blue tarp on a gaping hole above the shutters front door, I learned quite the important lesson:  The bright decal on folding stepladders that warns you not to step on the very top is there for a reason.
Ex-State Department employee turned journalist is asked to do a favor for his friend, and former lover, reporter Paula Quinn.  Her new fiancée has gone missing.  Considering the man is a lawyer and member of the town council, when Cole starts asking question, no one seems very concerned.  What is odd is that a man who supposedly being raised in Vermont has a Wyoming social security number.  With the help of his friend Felix Tinios, he starts following a trail which becomes more dangerous every step of the way, all the while worrying about the fate of his badly fire-damaged house from an impending hurricane heading its way.
It is a good bet that more than a few readers will be able to empathize with the opening, in one way or another.  It is also an effective hook.  DuBois has a very good first-person voice… “A couple of weeks ago, however, the routine had been disrupted—which is like saying the Civil War was a bar brawl that got out of hand--…”  He also creates a nice, impending sense of dread with the hurricane moving up the coast.
Although there are references to a previous book, new readers will be more intrigued than frustrated by the references.  If they are moved to read the previous book or books, it’s all to the better.
DuBois does create an interesting mix of characters.  Cole has an interesting past which makes it clear he wasn’t just pushing papers for the State Department, but he is a man of strong commitment and loyalty.  He believes in doing what is right and not taking shortcuts.  He is definitely someone you’d want to know.  A nice balance is his friend Felix…”originally from the North End of Boston and now residing in North Tyler as a security consultant—which he always manages to say with a straight face—…”  Well dressed and a lover of the finer things, it is clear Felix has less than legal connections.  Add in his friend and injured policewoman Diane, and you have a strong circle of personalities.  In some ways, the least dynamic character is Paula, the friend for whose fiancée Cole searches.  There are times when she seems remarkably naïve for a journalist.
In addition to Felix being a particularly interesting character, which he is, he also makes us wish to join him at the table…”Felix placed an order for a filet mignon—medium rare—with a side of two lobster tails, risotto, and house salad.” … “Felix had a veal dish with a side of pasta, while I had lobster fettuccini…”  These, and other instances, provide a nice pause in the action. 
For those who live in, or know the area of the book, it is very much as though you are along for the ride.  However, even those who do not can appreciate the observations regarding how the Bush recession impacted small towns…”Lots of powerful things were being closed or being threatened.  It must have been nice to live in a time when powerful things were being built and opened.”
Blood Foam” is filled with excellent twists, very good suspense from several sources, and a well-done ending.  One does appreciate a noble protagonist.

BLOOD FOAM (Mys/Jour – Louis Cole – New Hampshire – Contemp) – VG+
DuBois, Brendan – 9th in series
Pegasus Books – June, 2015

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