A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary review: Ex – cop August has finally managed to catch up with Bruce, the only witness to his kid brother’s murder, only to find himself falling for the enigmatic runaway. But when evidence starts to point towards Bruce having been more than just a witness to Tommy’s murder, August faces a tough decision: Will he trust appearance – or his heart?
The Blurb: Ten years ago, August’s adolescent brother was brutally murdered, and dumped in Blood Pond. The one person he is sure can identify the killer is on the run.
Bruce can’t escape the horror of what he experienced the night his friend, Tommy, was slaughtered in front of his eyes. Although he survived, he is still on the run, running from shadows that he can’t see. The last thing he wants is to come face to face with his greatest nightmare, face to face with the older brother of his dead boyhood crush.
The person chasing Bruce is a face he once admired in a photograph, a man desperately seeking closure to his brother’s murder. August has given up everything to find Bruce because he is sure that Bruce is the key to helping him find what he seeks. But can Bruce help August find the killer, or will the answer be buried forever at the bottom of Blood Pond?
The Review: When we first meet August, he’s almost completely broke, more or less living in his car and barely eking out a living as a private investigator. He has left his job with the Manchester PD three years ago in order to dedicate all his time and energy to his obsessive search for the only withess of his brother Tommy’s murder, Bruce. Now he’s closer to Bruce than he’s ever been, and determined to get Bruce to talk. But when they finally meet eye to eye, August is in for a surprise. Bruce is seriously troubled and yet at the same time self-sufficient, scared to death and yet ready to help August find closure. What’s more, Bruce is out and proud, and sexier than is good for August’s peace of mind.
August isn’t shy about his orientation himself (which, by the way, apparently was never an issue with his fellow cops), but he thinks it inappropriate that he feels attracted to a friend of his late brother’s a decade his junior who also happens to be a murder witness. Still, August changes his mind as he starts to see Bruce less as a task and more as a person.
Bruce has been running from his memories for the last ten years, but as far as he runs, he can’t escape the pictures of the murder, the voice of the murderer he keeps hearing in his head. He can only find peace on the bottom of a bottle, and so he drinks a lot, trades sex for food, shelter or a ride to his next destination, always moving, always looking back over his shoulder. He has thought about taking his own life several times, but his pride won’t allow it; he can’t let the killer win after he’s escaped from him in the first place. When August finds him, Bruce is torn between the need to remain concealed and the desperation to trust in someone – especially August, to whom he feels an immediate attraction, not only sexually. But the voice of the killer gets louder and louder in Bruce’s head the closer he comes to August. Who will win – the killer or the lover?
August is an interesting character. Eaten up with grief about his brother’s death and feelings of guilt because he had preferred a hot date over visiting Tommy for his birthday – only a few days before he was murdered – August has given up everything in order to go after Tommy’s killer. This shows his determination and his ability for deep and lasting feelings, which makes him believable when it comes to the question if he can love Bruce enough to trust him blindly. Bruce, with his erratic behavior and his inability to remain abstinent from drinking, his insecurities which result in frequent hissy fits is harder to take to. But despite his hard life, he has retained a kind of innocence. Underneath his street smarts he’s an outgoing young man with a deep yearning to be loved, which make him a likeable person after all.
This story moves at a breathtaking pace. Despite the fact we KNOW it’s a romance and supposed to have a happy ending, the author managed to sow doubts about not only Bruce, but August, too; the solution wasn’t immediately apparent, although hinted at if you know what to look for. Thus the actual mystery was suspense-packed and nail-bitingly creepy like a good horror movie. A warning in regard to this: I’m afraid the mystery/ suspense label on this book is not quite sufficient. As I see it, Blood Pond easily qualifies as a thriller or even horror, which is why I took the liberty to add the latter to the publisher’s labels. There was also a paranormal element which added beautifully to the plot.
Unfortunately, the suspense arc slacked a little towards the end; although it was still gripping, the outcome was rather predictable. And then there was the epilogue, which I read with slight bewilderment and a smidgen of impatience since it felt so gratuitous until – BAM! the book ended with a punch to the solar plexus that left me gasping. Very, very well done, desturbing to a point it actually haunted my dreams that night, which really doesn’t happen often.
I had one major issue, though, because this book had a number of editing deficiencies which added up to a noticeable bother. Mostly it was the “he/him confusion”, with anatomic parts, actions and parts of dialogue getting mixed up due to ambiguous attribution. Since I was already alerted, I couldn’t help noticing a number of grammar mistakes and typos I’d have otherwise just ignored.
Aside from this, Blood Pond was a gripping read that didn’t only have an awesome plot but also a surprisingly tender and passionate love story. Recommended for fans of thrill and horror.
***This story contains scenes of violence, and bloodshed some readers may find offensive***