Book Review: Blood Standard by Laird Barron


Author: Laird Barron

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Release Date: May 2018

After a brutally entertaining opening section detailing his life as a mob enforcer in Alaska, Blood Standard uproots the hulking Isaiah Coleridge to the bucolic surroundings of upstate New York for a fresh start. However, Coleridge’s plans for a more sedate existence go up in smoke when a teenage girl disappears, and he realises that his unique skill-set is much in demand. The only problem is, by making a big noise in a quiet town, Isaiah finds himself attracting the attention of precisely the kind of people he moved there to avoid…

Blood Standard is a snappy, bloody-knuckled page-turner that mashes up well-worn private eye tropes with tricks from the lone-wolf hardman locker to endearing effect. Our protagonist is an unusually thoughtful tough guy – prone to folksy ruminations as much as cynical wisecracks, and while he is reluctant to return to a world of pain and violence, he is undeniably good at dishing it out!

Coleridge is engaging company throughout and while he makes friends as readily as he makes enemies, it is his memorably violent misadventures that impress the most – notably Barron’s lyrical descriptions of mayhem. With a satisfyingly fleshed-out back story, a juicy employment history and a combustible father-son relationship, there is plenty to sink your teeth into here, and Blood Standard is definitely worth checking out if you are in search of a postmodern PI yarn.

This book is followed by Black Mountain (2019) and Worse Angels (2020) and I look forward to checking out another slab of Barron’s bone-crunching pulp further down the line.

Review by Tom Leins

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