As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
*May Contain Spoilers*
Ed Duncan blurs the boundaries of good and evil in his crime novel, Pigeon-Blood Red. While the main characters are mostly cheats, gamblers, murderers, and thugs, it seems a few of them have a sense of honor.
Through the opening chapters, I struggled to like the characters. Rico is an enforcer for a loan shark and his sense of 'business' is criminal. When the necklace goes missing, he even checks out his girlfriend by intimidating her with a knife, though Jean isn't the best person either. Rico is first depicted as a man who will do whatever it takes to complete a job because he believes that everyone he kills had it coming.
Robert is a figuratively the scum of the earth. He wants to be a rich playboy but doesn't want to put in the work. He figured he could make money if he had more money and quickly got too caught up. Now he owes the loan shark, Litvak, thousands of dollars with no way to pay. When he sees the opportunity to steal the necklace (of pigeon-blood rubies) he takes it. But that isn't even the worst part. He drags his wife, Evelyn, into it.
Evelyn is an innocent in the middle of all these criminals. She's a teacher who just wants her husband, Robert, to stop cheating on her and be a better man, a man she knows he could be. She decides to give him one last chance to redeem himself, a second honeymoon to Hawaii. At first he doesn't want to go, making him even worse, but after he steals the necklace, he's on the flight running away from Litvak and his thugs.
While in Hawaii, Evelyn runs into Paul. Paul is an attorney who lost his wife a year earlier. He's known Evelyn since college and they were once mutually attracted. When Rico follows Robert to Hawaii, Evelyn finds herself in danger and Paul steps in to keep her safe. I think Evelyn and Paul were the only two characters that were likeable and relatable. Readers will sympathize with Paul's loss of his wife and admire his courage to help Evelyn. I think readers will nearly hate Robert as he has no good qualities that aren't part of his facade. But it's Rico who's the tricky one. It's not easy to paint a villain and turn him into something less evil, something nearly likeable, but Ed Duncan does just that. By the end of the novel, I almost respected him. Almost.
The plot of the novel follows the necklace. The necklace is a priceless piece of jewelry made out of multiple pigeon-blood red rubies. When Robert steals it, trouble ensues, putting everyone in mortal danger. After his death in Hawaii, Evelyn and Paul escape, but feel like they're being followed. The police believe it's because of the necklace. The two must figure out a way to return the necklace and stay alive without having to look over their shoulders the rest of their lives. And that becomes the hardest part. For readers who enjoy action thrillers with a side of romance and crime, Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan may be the next book on the reading list.
Rating: 2.5/5 Cups