Visuals. Pictures in the mind. They're what an author lives and dies by. When all five senses come alive on the page, the reading experience is no longer a stationary activity, but one that becomes palpable and real. David Huffstetler's Blood on the Pen does just that. It startles with the violence of a gripping murder mystery and gets the pulse racing with the suspense of a heart-pounding thriller. You hear the inner thoughts of a killer fill your head. You feel the last breath leaving the body of a murder victim. You frantically turn the pages desperate to find out why.
Huffstetler's prose is direct and to the point. The first line states, "Someone was going to die that night." The narrative arc is established right off the bat since three paragraphs later that prophecy is fulfilled. Huffstetler does not delay in setting things in motion. Yet his text adequately sets a scene. Stiletto heels clatter, keys jingle and thinning hair grows wet with blood, but evocative details are not relied upon to establish a deeper undercurrent. There is more going on than meets the eye as provocatively demonstrated in the line, "The same hands that wrote prose on a computer keyboard now lashed a rope around the corner post of the banister." Who is this killer and how does the refinement of profession coincide with such heated aggression?
It's a classic cat-and-mouse game as the hard-driven Texas Ranger Jack Harden, pursues the sociopath killer, Eddie Carter. In a battle of wills, the chase plays out as the gory details of Eddie's rejected manuscript start coming to life becoming a game plan for mass murder. Jack, a widower who tragically lost his wife in a drunk driving accident, teams up with young reporter, Elsie Rodriguez. As the two begin to track down leads, Elsie gets beneath Jack's tough guy veneer providing a sense of comfort from his tortured past. As the body count mounts, they begin to wonder - who is the real Eddie Carter?
Blood on the Pen's psychological zaniness stems from Eddie's disproportionate feeling of rejection. When Eddie's amateur attempt at a publishable manuscript is refused by a literary agency, all hell breaks loose. Wounded pride is the impetus that drives the narrative. An uncontrolled sense of paranoia keeps this overly sensitive author from seeing the truth about the manuscript's level of quality. In a gruesome aside, Eddie feels that by becoming a mass murdering celebrity the book would finally gain an audience based on the fame of the author rather than on the substance of the work.
Available exclusively in ebook format, Blood on the Pen is sublimely suited for the Nook and Kindle. It's a fast paced read that alleviates the tedium of a doctor's waiting room or airport layover. It doesn't require a major time commitment and can easily be finished in one sitting. A final resolution to Huffstetler's intrigue and deception is only minutes away.
Overall, literary agents should watch their backs before consigning an unstable author to the slush pile.
Blood on the Pen by David Huffstetler is available for $5.95 at Amazon.com and at DavidHuffstetler.com.
Review copy provided by David Huffstetler.