(Note: I received a copy of Symphony of Blood via the LibraryThing Member Giveaways program. The author’s website can be found here, and this book is available at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes&Noble.)
Symphony of Blood is, without a doubt, a hard-boiled detective novel of a very high caliber. Hank Mondale is a private-eye with major issues that are actually consistent throughout the entire novel – props to Pepper on that. It’s easy to let those problems slide out of the way as the plot picks up, but they haunt Hank thoroughly and completely.
The plot picks up steam rapidly after a short introduction into Hank’s life that feels neither forced nor awkward. Something very weird is going on, and it quickly spirals out of his control. The first section of this book was like riding a freight train on a one-way trip to hell, and it was awesome. My favorite hard-boiled detective is actually Harry Dresden, so I’m totally down with the whole supernatural-unknown-forces-and-a-detective novel thing.
Hank Mondale is a great character and his voice is very strong. He’s got problems but he’s not sleazy, and he definitely fulfills the hard-boiled “never give up” mentality. The prose is spare but powerful; it packs a real punch when things get messy.
Just as Hank’s story builds to a stunning climax, everything comes to a screeching halt as we’re suddenly transferred to a different point of view (and just whose point of view that is, I’ll leave out so as to avoid spoilers). This is perhaps my one quibble with the structure; I might have alternated the points of view earlier, although it would have spoiled some of the surprise. I understand why Pepper chose to do it this way, but it was a quick turnaround from exciting plot to build-up again, and it took me a few pages to readjust.
When we again return to Hank’s POV for the conclusion, it picks up right where we left off, and drives us home to an ultimately satisfying but still-mysterious conclusion. In an attempt to not give anything away, I will say that the center of the supernatural mystery in this case is exceptional for its originality and stark creepiness.
Toward the end of the novel I did encounter a few minor typos/conversion errors that got missed, but they were not pervasive by any means. Overall, the copy editing was very good.
If you’re a fan of the hard-boiled detective, or of original supernatural fiction that doesn’t involve no stinkin’ vampires or werewolves or other standard tropes, I definitely recommend checking out Symphony of Blood.
Overall Score: 4 out of 5 stars. Recommended.