Bale, Tom – ‘Blood Falls’
Paperback: 496 pages (Feb. 2012) Publisher: Arrow ISBN: 0099559439
Joe Clayton is a man on the run; he is an ex-undercover policeman who has been involved in an operation that went horribly wrong when a gangster’s son was shot and killed. The gangster himself is now in prison but his other son is out to get revenge. As a result, Joe has lost his job, but even worse his wife and children have been given new identities unknown to Joe, who cannot try to contact them in case he gives away their new names and location. He takes a series of manual labouring jobs for which he is paid in cash, resigned to a life in hiding.
So much is conveyed in the first chapter or two of BLOOD FALLS, the sequel to TERROR’S REACH – in which I presume this back-story is explained fully. Having set up Joe as a character isolated from friends, family and work, having to operate off the grid, BLOOD FALLS is thereafter an independent story. In attempting to escape from his pursuers who have discovered him in Bristol at the start of the book, Joe arrives in a small Cornish seaside town where Diane, the widow of his old police-force partner, lives. He hopes Diane will put him up for a few days while he finds a job and somewhere to stay. She, however, is rather nervy and Joe soon discovers that the town is in effect controlled by a man who owns a security company and his cronies.
Joe’s adventures in uncovering what is really going on in the town, together with his search for a missing young woman, form the rest of the story. The novel is easy to read and quite exciting, if predictable in its outcome – one to enjoy on a plane or train journey, perhaps. The author’s earlier novel, SKIN AND BONES, was a very good thriller about a closed-off village under threat, and I think a more exciting read than the similar-themed BLOOD FALLS, again about an isolated town and malign forces. Even so, those who like Lee Child’s novels will find much to like here, as Joe is a similar sort of character to the nomadic Jack Reacher, being forced to operate under society’s radar as well as representing the fight of good against apparently impregnable evil. The ever-present threat to Joe of the gangsters discovering his whereabouts and taking their revenge will no doubt keep him moving around the country, to encounter new adventures in future books.