There are some books you read where the prose is so crisp, where the story flows so well, you immediately wonder what else the author has written. Blood Makes Noise is one of those books. Even if one were to have absolutely no idea who Gregory Widen is, it wouldn't take more than a few chapters to send you scrambling for Wikipedia to confirm that not only is he a writer, but an accomplished one at that.
Yes, this is the man who brought stories such as Highlander, Backdraft, and The Prophecy to the screen, and that deft touch for dramatic tension, narrative efficiency, and the almost poetic flow of ideas comes through in his first novel.
With its roots firmly embedded in the real-life story of Eva “Evita” Perón, Blood Makes Noise tells the story of her corpse's journey into exile, and then back home again, as witnessed on the way out, and accompanied on the way back, by Michael Suslov, a CIA officer assigned to Buenos Aires. This is a solid spy thriller, historical thriller, and human interest story all rolled into one, propelled by two very different (but equally flawed/damaged) personalities. It's because of Evita's legend that we're drawn into the tale, and because of Michael's sadly endearing life that we're so willing to stick around through the initial set-up. Once the novel his the halfway mark, however, it's a wild, frantic, and very bloody race to the finish.
While Widen's screenwriter pedigree makes for a crisp tale, it also makes for a thin one at times. There's not a lot of scene setting or description here. Many scenes are little more than dialogue, tersely worded actions, and a little narrative oversight. Personally, I found that to be a style that worked for the story, but some readers may find themselves craving a bit more detail, particularly early on. It is an emotionally gripping tale, however, and Widen does a masterful job of using Michael to draw the reader in, feel for his moral dilemmas, and ultimately sympathize with a man who isn't necessarily very likable. The pacing is a bit uneven for a novel, but were you to watch it as a movie, in a single sitting as opposed to reading it over multiple nights, the pacing would be just about right.
If you're looking for a good read to take to the cottage, and don't mind having to think a bit about what's going on and why, Blood Makes Noise is a great choice. It's not what I would call a 'fun' read, but an entertaining one.
Published April 30th 2013 by Thomas & Mercer
Paperback, 442 pages