Reviews

Deep Blood Reviews

 

Gabriel Ricard, Editor at Drunk Monkeys (www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com)

When I think of a story like the one Phillip Thompson writes about in his phenomenal southern noir novel Deep Blood, I think of Warren Zevon, specifically, a song called “The Indifference of Heaven.” One of the best-written songs in Zevon’s catalogue, “The Indifference of Heaven” depicts lost love, murder, and desperation across a landscape marked by bleakness and inexhaustible supply of loneliness. Every story in the song comes back to the title. “We contemplate eternity”, Zevon says, “Beneath the vast indifference of heaven.” It’s easy to imagine Deep Blood’s righteous, flawed protagonist muttering Zevon’s refrain under his breath.

Deep Blood isn’t just set in the Deep South—it creates dark corners of ghost town streets, winding country roads, small gas stations, and other elements of the environment as we know it that do not actually exist in the real world. Thompson loves these surroundings enough to craft the world of Sheriff Colt Harper (admittedly, that name drives me nuts) with the kind of care that only comes from someone who is steeped in tradition and affection. But there’s a complex narrative to tell, one which has to include Harper’s slow-motion downfall, his regrettable past, a murder, and an ongoing, destructive relationship with an alcoholic father. Then there are all the other personalities who make up Thompson’s character-driven drama.

Thompson writes short, straightforward sentences with unpretentious imagery. Within that writing style he manages to establish believable, interesting characters. He also moves us along the path of the mystery that seeps into Harper’s bones and memories, which are already infected with dozens of grim episodes from his past.

The murder mystery component to Deep Blood is well done, but it’s not the primary focus of the novel. With this book, Thompson seeks to create a character multifaceted enough that we’ll follow him as he seeks resolution with the things that are destroying him with rising ferocity. Thompson does this, while never letting his knowledge or appreciation of southern noir get in the way of telling the best story possible. Fans of the genre are going to be pleased that someone is capable of drawing from past examples and actual life experiences in the south to create a novel as good as this one is. Deep Blood is both authentic and compulsory.

Cyrus A. Webb, host of Conversations LIVE! Radio (5 of 5 stars)

The truth has a way of coming out, no matter how potent it can be. It’s not always pretty or even the way you would hope it should be, but it can definitely set you free. This is something we have seen in life, and in Phillip Thompson’s new book DEEP BLOOD we are given a reminder of it.

We meet Colt Harper, a man who is entrusted with enforcing the law, but finds himself at times involved in actions that blur the line between what’s seen as right and wrong. He’s not alone. His father has been a thorn in his side most of his life, and his behavior leads to trouble that only adds to Colt’s grief.

Set in Mississippi DEEP BLOOD helps us to see how the layers of the law, good versus evil and the dysfunctions of family can collide to create a recipe of complicated disaster. When a good friend’s son is murdered, it brings about a part of the past that Colt Harper would rather not be reminded of and the issue of race and how it still seems to be the poison that destroys lives. Though Colt hasn’t had the best relationship with his father, will it cause him to believe the worse before the truth is revealed? That is what readers will find out along with how people can look past color to seeing a person’s real value.

Definitely a story I enjoyed, full of realistic and flawed characters that will keep you reading until the end. Regardless of what type of book you are used to reading, give this one a try. DEEP BLOOD is sure to remind you that nothing holds the power of the truth.

Paul D. Reinhart (reader review, 4 of 5 stars)

I have read many novels set in the South, and Deep Blood is as authentic as they come. Phillip Thompson’s description of life in Lowndes County, Mississippi could very well be of my own childhood home in neighboring Arkansas. References to “Visqueen”, “cotton poison”, and the way Colt Harper one-handedly tamps his snuff can, are right on the money.

Racism in this story is very interesting when viewed from a generational perspective. Colt’s father is very open about his hatred and contempt for African-Americans, as were many from my grandparents’ generation. Colt however, does not tolerate use of the N-word, his best friend and deputy is black, and he is very close and perhaps once intimate in high school with Rhonda, also black. Skip another generation to Donelle, and his hostility towards whites is there for all to see. A very complex issue, as we all know.

This is primarily a tale of past sins, broken relationships, murder and redemption. The book was very much a page-turner, with very well-developed main characters. I hope to read more about Sheriff Colt Harper, Deputy John Carver, and wouldn’t mind a little more Lydia! Keep on writing, Mr. Thompson.

Marlies A. Dunson (reader review, 5 of 5 stars)

Deep Blood is incredibly well-written, propelling you through the story through multiple points of view. All the characters are round and interesting. Definitely worth checking out.

Kate Policani, Compulsively Writing Reviews (4 of 5 stars)

This story is a gritty, manly murder mystery tale, written about a time and place when men don’t cry and folks don’t take a picture of their dinner with Instagram. Everything fits to make messed-up characters, crazy backstories, and wonderful life to everyone in the story. Every character has character from Colt to Mr. Wofford, the kooky witness who looked like a “bloated version of Raggedy Andy”. “Just a little bit on the country side”, they called it. The main character’s description of spitting his chewing tobacco, the pleasure it gives him, and the satisfying irritation it causes in his father is a great example of the little, relevant details of the story. Somehow Phillip has made even the little things like this enrich the atmosphere .

Under the colorful atmosphere lie deep themes of shame, abuse, racism, family sins, and blame. Colt keeps his wounds to himself, but they follow him wherever he goes and color all his actions. Most characters are the same and it feels like a special treat when each one opens up. No character escapes the pain and scarring of a life in a poor town where racism and poverty have affected everyone.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to adults (some language, sensitive themes, and sex). I read the whole thing on a Saturday and every time my kids or the dog interrupted me, I couldn’t wait to get back to Deep Blood. I wanted to read more about Colt at the end. I hope Phillip decides to write more books about this character!

After reading Deep Blood, I realized how meaningful the title is. No, I’m not going to explain. Read the book! I approve this title for Awesome Indies.http://awesomeindies.net I received this book from the author for the purposes of unbiased review.

Chris Gerrib, author of The Mars Run/Reviewer at Pod People (5 of 5stars)

Deep Blood is Phillip Thompson’s third novel. If his other two are anywhere near as good as this, I’ll have to add both to my list. Thompson, a Marine who served in the First Gulf War, was born and raised in a small town in Mississippi, and in Deep Blood he returns to those roots.

Deep Blood’s protagonist is Sam “Colt” Harper, a newly-elected sheriff in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Colt was also a Marine, fought in Iraq and as sheriff he brought one of his Marine buddies in as deputy. Oh, and Colt’s dad is the town’s drunk.

The story essentially starts with Colt finding a body in the local reservoir, that of Clifford Raines, a black teenager. Figuring out who killed the boy is part of the story, as well as sorting out his personal life and family history. Deep Blood is “southern-fried noir.” It has that dark edge, with characters who most definitely aren’t saints, dealing with tough hands dealt them by life as best they can.

I have to say that Thompson takes a dark view of race relationships, and his character’s language runs from salty to crude. But then this is noir, not Disney, so one should expect that. Having warned the sensitive reader, I have to say that I found Deep Blood a gripping read, and well worth the effort. There’s a saying in vaudeville to “always leave your audience wanting more.” Deep Blood is a short novel, and so I wanted more, but in a good way.

In short, for fans of hard-boiled crime novels, Deep Blood is a great read. Highly recommended.

B.J. Ramos (reader review, 4 of 5 stars)

Colt is … complicated. Once a promising high school football player, then decorated Marine, Colt’s the sheriff in Lowndes County, Miss. His father’s a drunk, his marriage is on the rocks and his girlfriend is just this side of the stripper pole. And in a town were race still divides everything, Colt hired an oversize black deputy – another former jarhead – to watch his back. Good thing, because Colt needs the help.

Told in alternating points of view from chapter to chapter, this intricate tale kept me turning pages throughout the flight from DC to Denver. I can’t remember the last time that I read a book in on sitting. For all his flaws – not the least of which are his toxic relationships with his father and his not-quite ex-wife – Sheriff Colt Harper is worth getting to know.

I have been friends with the author, Phillip Thompson, for more years than either of us care to admit. As his three previous books show, Phillip can tell a story that pulls you into another place and time. Deep Blood is equally engaging.

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