Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: The Blood Promise by Mark Pryor

The Blood Promise (A Hugo Marsten Novel, Book #3)
by Mark Pryor
Release Date: January 14th, 2014
2014 Seventh Street Books
Softcover Edition; 280 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-61614-815-7
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

In post-Revolution Paris, an old man signs a letter in blood, then hides it in a secret compartment in a sailor's chest. A messenger arrives to transport the chest and its hidden contents, but then the plague strikes and an untimely death changes history.

Two hundred years later, Hugo Marston is safeguarding an unpredictable but popular senator who is in Paris negotiating a France/U.S. dispute. The talks, held at a country chateau, collapse when the senator accuses someone of breaking into his room. Theft becomes the least of Hugo's concerns when someone discovers a sailor's chest and the secrets hidden within, and decides that the power and money they promise are worth killing for. 

My Thoughts
The Blood Promise is the third book in the Hugo Marsten series and is probably my favourite of the three books so far.  As always, I loved the banter and the wit between the characters, and definitely loved the atmosphere of one of my favourite cities in Europe, la belle Paris.

Hugo Marsten is a former FBI operative who now works at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. One of his jobs is to ensure the safety of visiting guests who may need some extra safeguarding during their visits.  This time, his job is to safeguard a popular senator, Charles Lake, who is in France to resolve a dispute between the U.S. and France.  Safeguarding Lake proves to be rather difficult as the senator is rather difficult and unpredictable and has a rather nasty habit of escaping his guards and roaming the city unguarded.  Huge can sense major undercurrents going on at the chateau where the talks are being held, and despite himself, his curiosity is gets the better of himself and he gets involved in the events that unfold during his stay.  This part of the novel was quite interesting as I liked the underlying political innuendos that were happening, and really enjoyed the discussions on the biases that exist between men and women in the political world.  The events moved rather slowly for a Mark Pryor novel at this point, but the writing and the style were very interesting nonetheless.

When events do happen though, they happen with a bang and with a completely unexpected twist and I was very upset over this twist.  It was something I was hoping would never happen, but it did.  What was interesting was the effect it had on Hugo and Tom.  A case that was just mildly interesting became quite personal and I was fascinated by how they would deal with a loss so personal.  Both of these men, one being former FBI, and one being former CIA, are used to death and destruction, but neither one had really experienced a close death, and I was interested to see how it would be dealt with in this story, especially the more fragile Tom, who is a recovering alcoholic.  And it is the bond between these two men that I really find interesting, and how they support and depend on each other. Many moments of laughter and comic relief available here.  I love how the author incorporates these moments as it makes the novel so much more fun.

The historical twist was quite interesting as it pertains to a moment of history that is near and dear to me.  I can't really mention too much more or I will certainly give it away and I don't want to give anything away.  You will just have to read it to understand it.   And, I love novels where I don't have a definite grasp as to who the killer was, and I am constantly second-guessing myself.  Since it doesn't happen too often, I tend to drift towards those authors as I love those twists in the end where I go "How did I miss that?"

The Blood Promise has one of those plots that can be quite convoluted and does it mean that you have to kind of suspend some kind of belief once in a while?  Oh, yes, as these men seem to do no wrong when it comes to chasing down the bad guys, and they seem to have contacts everywhere and in everything.  However, there is true friendship between Tom and Hugo, and between Hugo and Raul and you can feel it through the pages.  It makes you very sympathetic to all of the characters, even the ones who are not always cooperative.  The descriptions of Paris are very well done and I can picture myself strolling down some of the streets or heading outside of Paris to the chateau.  It just makes me want to fly there right now and sit in one of the cafes and have a tea and croissant.  While there are definite weaknesses to this novel, the strengths outweigh them, and make this novel a very pleasant read.  This book reads as a stand-alone, but reading the first two will help you understand the rich relationships between the characters and some of the events that are referenced. 


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