Jason Ridler takes a bite out of the vampire genre with his action-packed, fast-paced novel, Blood and Sawdust.
B&S reads like a backroom MMA bout with vampires, or Fight Club with a supernatural twist. B&S has its origins in movies like Bloodsport and Street Fighter as much as it does the novels of Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson. There’s a noir feel to B&S. Damsels in distress, double crossing gangsters, bone-breaking goons — its all here, along with genuinely snappy dialogue and strong pacing which elevates this novel.
Milkwood and Malcolm are lovable losers, and Ridler does a fine job revealing backstory while keeping the tale moving forward. Malcolm is a 13-year-old hustler, living in the shadow of an abusive brother. Malcolm wants to avenge his mother’s murder. Milkwood is a vampire who wants to avenge his late father’s reputation as a “jobber” — the perpetual loser in the professional wrestling ring. Both find what they’re looking for on the fringe fight circuit, where brutal death-matches are held in clandestine locations, away from the eyes of police and regulatory commissions.
Ridler’s fight scenes are savage and engaging, inviting readers into the poetry of violence. There are a couple of groan-worthy twists and turns in Blood and Sawdust, but overall Ridler keeps it humming along nicely, building toward a satisfying conclusion.
I look forward to more tales of Milkwood and Malcolm!
BOB’S BOTTOM LINE:
A fast-paced, neo noir mix of MMA, vampires, ancient evil, and gangsters!