Before I go anywhere with this review, full disclosure:
- I’ve come to know Ed Kurtz as a friend and fellow writer; and,
- I’m writing a novella in his Sam Truman Mysteries series.
Also, in full disclosure, I promised Ed an honest review of the book on Amazon, which I will also do and you can click on the link to read (look for the one titled “If you want blood, you’ve got to BLEED”).
Now, with those preliminaries out of the way, on to Bleed.
This book did not pan out the way I expected it to. Now, I’m not one of those reviewers that gives you the entire plot of a book in the review, just because I hate that, to be honest. I want to experience a book with very little foreknowledge. So, all I’m going to tell you up front (and yes, there will be other hints along the way) is that Walt Blackmore buys himself a fixer-upper that comes with something else that needs some fixing up. It starts as a stain on the ceiling and it gets a lot worse from there.
So, as I said, this book didn’t go the way I expected it to. And, coming at it as a writer, I got slightly less than halfway through and gave up trying to figure out what Kurtz was doing or where he was going, because, quite frankly I would have finished the story off at the halfway mark.
But Kurtz takes you so much farther. This is so not a book for the faint of heart. And I don’t say any of this as a bad thing. Kurtz’s strengths lie in the senses. You aren’t just shown the horrors. They’re slammed in your ears. They’re rammed down your throat. They’re punched up your nose. Your eyes never stand a chance. And Kurtz is relentless with this, especially in the last third of the story. I haven’t waded in this much blood and gore and offal since John Skipp and Craig Spector’s brilliant novel, The Scream.
But for all that, this isn’t a splatterpunk novel, or gore for gore’s sake. It didn’t occur to me until that last third, but I finally figured out, at least to me, what Bleed was for me.
If you shrink the hotel down to a farmhouse, take the embodied evil in it and give it form, remove the kid with the power and amp up the killing…this is Ed Kurtz taking on The Shining. When I clued in to that, honestly, I just sat back and enjoyed the thrill ride.
Coming at it as a reader, it’s goofy, it’s fun, and it’s insanely over the top in parts, but over all, intensely horrible. Again, all in a good way. Coming at it as a writer (as is, unfortunately, my curse), I would have done it a little differently, removing a couple of characters, mashing a couple of other ones together, slight adjustments to pacing…but these are minor. I can say the same damn thing for Stephen King’s 11/22/63…so what do I know?
I’m sure Ed would say the same for the stuff I write as well. We all see it through our own lenses.
In the end, however, I reserve the highest praise for Kurtz’s creation of one of the most ferocious monsters in modern-day fiction. Bottom line, you can have the story and the characterization perfect, get the suspense nailed down, but if your monster sucks or just doesn’t move you, then the story’s crap.
Ed Kurtz’s story is so not crap.
Worth the money? Hell yes. I personally read the ebook edition, but I will absolutely be picking up a hard copy. This is one I want in my library.