Pigeon Blood Red takes its title from the McGuffin of the tale, a valuable necklace made up of pigeon blood red rubies. A businessman with a gambling habit who’s in hock to a loan shark happens upon the loan shark’s necklace and steals it. Off he runs to Honolulu where his estranged wife is holidaying. The loan shark tasks Rico, his top hoodlum, to go after the businessman to get the necklace back.
This is a standard gangster tale. I don’t know if it’s the author’s first novel but apparently, it’s the first of a trilogy. Pigeon Blood Red is a solid effort, the characters are well rounded, the narrative unfolds well enough, the sense of place in Honolulu is convincingly brought to life.
For all that though there’s something lacking here. This isn’t really a criticism as such. In a crowded field (crime fiction is possibly one of the biggest genres there is, with new titles arriving all the time) it’s difficult for a story to stand out from the crowd. Some people say it’s about originality, that the author must tell an original tale to be successful. But is that really the case? Are not many a title alike? So why do some become wildly popular and successful and others don’t? My own view is that a story needs a little magic fairy dust, that intangible quality that makes it shine. We know it when we see it, but when pushed to explain what it is, it remains frustratingly ephemeral.
Pigeon Blood Red is a point in hand. Everything ticks the right boxes here, but for some reason it just didn’t shine for me. That’s not to say that the author doesn’t have potential, he does. Pigeon Blood Red was enjoyable enough and like many an author he may well hone his craft over time, future books might well hit the sweet spot.
This is a solidly told tale and if you like gangster tales, tales of high stakes manhunts and people out of their depth, then you could well do worse.
3 out of 5 stars.