Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Review: BLOOD-DRENCHED BEARD, by Daniel Galera
If you're suffering from winter's cold, Blood-Drenched Beard might be just the thing to warm you up. A moody, slow-paced thriller set in modern-day Brazil, the book tells the story of a nameless young man who has moved to a resort town in search of the truth behind his grandfather's death. On his deathbed the man's father tells him a grisly story of small-town vigilante justice and an unmarked grave; when the man's father dies, the man takes his father's dog and goes in search of the truth.
The town is a tourist mecca quieting down at the end of the season, and our protagonist, an athlete with a brain disorder that prevents him from remembering faces, goes to work in a gym teaching swimming. He dates a local woman, starts a running club and befriends a B&B owner who lives nearby. Things seem to be going well. But some people react strangely to him, due, he finds out, to his uncanny resemblance to his grandfather, and nobody wants to talk about what happened.
Events unwind slowly but things do come to a head. For me this was a really great read, atmospheric and suspenseful, with more than enough forward motion to keep me going. It's not one of those white-hot twisty thrillers that will keep you up all night, but whenever I picked it up I was loathe to put it back down. It's a slow burn, with an explosion at the end. I would recommend it to lots of readers-literary readers and mystery readers alike. I think it would be great for the beach bag, although I hope you don't wait until summer to read it. Tinged with menace, Galera's writing is beautifully descriptive and the story is haunting and sad. It's a terrific read.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of Blood-Drenched Beard from the publisher.