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4.2 out of 5 stars
Bloodland: A Novel
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 4, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had not yet read any of the author's previous work so was excited to see if I now had a "new" author to follow. I've read numerous "thriller" novels, no matter how you define that term, and have long been wary of trying new authors because there just seems to be so many that write by some perceived formula for "success". That's not always bad as I do like a good adrenaline rush as much as the next guy, as long as there are the other aspects of a good novel (like well written characterization, proper plotting, setting, etc.)

I am pleased to report that this novel is, indeed, very well written and offers taught plotting and excellent characterization. As others have mentioned, the first part of the book requires paying close attention to make sure you understand the many different characters and what their roles/motivations might be. I won't rehash the plot here as that has been done above but suffice it to say it's a plot that is not only plausible in today's political world, but even likely. Some reviewers refer to a "stream of consciousness" approach to the story-telling but don't let that dissuade you. The author uses present tense throughout but, in my mind, that simply reinforces the here-and-now urgency of the plot and serves to suck you in to the story.

I would have awarded 5 stars except for a small feeling of dissatisfaction with the way certain plot elements were resolved. Chalk that up to my need to witness events instead of being told about plot climaxes that occur off-stage. Other than that, a most satisfying reading experience and, indeed, I do now have a "new" author to follow.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What do a former Irish PM, a US Senator on the fast track to the White House, a couple of high-power industrialists, a shadowy private military contractor, a coke-addled starlet, and an out-of-work journalist have in common? If you want a book that's easy to follow, the obvious answer would be, not a bloody thing. But if you do decide to tie them together, and present the story in little snippets, and jump from character to character, place to place, sometimes in flashback and sometimes in the present, at the very least you get bit of a headache for the reader.

This is a good book, mind you, but it's certainly not a light read or a fast one. Throughout Chapter 1 you have to pay close attention, try to get the dramatis personae sorted out, wade through some slow parts, and ignore the nagging feeling that the whole scenario is a bit unbelievable. If you stick it out through the first third of the book, and reach Chapter 2, you should have a handle on the players and can enjoy a healthy increase in the pacing. There is a true rogue's gallery running amok, sometimes working together and sometimes at cross-purposes, and it's great fun watching them try to stuff the genie back into the bottle. You never know where things are headed, as layer after layer of backstory is peeled back, revealing motivations and old grudges.

If you prefer the type of thriller where you can just put your brain on hold and breeze through a couple hundred pages, then you should pass this up. If you don't mind a bit of slogging so you can enjoy watching a deliciously intricate scenario play out, give this one a try!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
In a marketplace filled with legal thrillers, techno-thrillers, and crime thrillers galore, a true conspiracy thriller is a rare animal indeed. This one opens with some sort of paramilitary operation in Congo. The reader is thrown into a heightened situation without any exposition or background, and it's a little disorientating.

From there, we are in the study of a young, Irish journalist, Jimmy Gilroy. These are hard times for journalists. Papers aren't hiring, so you take what you can get. What Jimmy has gotten is a cheesy biography of a troubled actress who died in a helicopter crash a few years earlier. He is stunned when a former mentor calls and puts some not too subtle pressure on him to drop this utterly inconsequential job. But it's a paycheck, and he needs it.

Next, the reader is introduced to a series of powerful men on both sides of the Atlantic, from businessmen to politicians. Glynn isn't spoon-feeding readers his story, and it takes a while to make the connections. What other readers describe as being "slow," I chalk up to complexity and brilliance. The author made me work a little. There were a lot of names, places, and people to keep straight and links to discover. I got to uncover what was going on alongside Jimmy Gilroy, and I loved it every step of the way!

Now, this isn't a novel with a lot of room for character development. Actually, I think there was more "lack of character" development, because there were some seriously morally bankrupt people in this tale. But I did think it was well written. More than anything, I just thought the plotting was so deliciously complex and smart. It was a pure joy putting these pieces together. I thought the world of international powerbrokers in which Glynn set his story was fascinating. While this novel didn't have the same kind of pacing as an action thriller, I found myself unable to stop turning the pages. Intellectually, I just NEEDED to know what was going on. Mr. Glynn gave me several satisfying twists and turns, and I never came close to guessing the ending. Tension builds throughout the novel as Jimmy gets closer and closer to the truth, and as those who are obfuscating it get increasingly desperate. It's all believable enough to make one wonder how much of the world really works like this.

I'd highly recommend Bloodland to patient readers willing to work a little for a solution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 18, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Can something as mundane as a hand accidentally slammed in a car door derail an eminent United States senator's promising presidential prospects? In Alan Glynn's new international thriller, "Bloodland," it might do so just as readily as the mysterious helicopter crash off Ireland's coast years earlier that killed a coked-up young Hollywood trollop at the peak of her notoriety. Without a steady job in hand or on the horizon, young journalist Jimmy Gilroy reluctantly finds himself freelancing on spec to write a biography of the famously dead starlet. The vapid celebrity expose he dreads writing becomes something vastly more dreadful as finds himself delving into a savage conspiracy that sucks him into an increasingly menacing labyrinth of lies and corpses reaching from the depths of war torn African jungles to the steps of the White House.

Though it takes a little while to get off the ground, Glynn's novel is a worthy read for conspiracy thriller fans. The Great Recession's rapacious specters loom in the book's background as Glynn deftly weaves spiraling plot lines teeming with twisted characters, all of whom are intriguingly flawed and none of whom are particularly loveable. The dialogue is crisp, and thanks to Glynn's fastidious research the settings ring both exotic and true. As with many of the best modern thrillers, a real-life story chillingly similar to the tale Glynn spins in "Bloodland" could be the breathless headlines on tomorrow's news.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bloodland by Alan Glynn is a first rate political thriller for modern times.

Everything a fan of political thrillers could possibly want is here. The stream of consciousness approach taken by Glynn may disorient the reader at first, but I feel that it provides a unique window into the minds and thought patterns of the character involved in each section that really brings the action of the novel to life and keeps the reader wanting to turn the page. The story in itself is compelling because of how it changes throughout the course of the book.

In the early stages, one thinks its' going to revolve around the death of coke addicted starlet Suzie Monaghan in a plane crash and the tireless nothing to lose journalist Jimmy Gilroy who has been hired to write a biography on the gone too soon actress.

Soon, the entire story changes as Jimmy discovers that Suzie was just the collateral damage for a much more sinister plot involving intertwined business and political interests that if unraveled will spell professional and personal doom for its' participants.

In an America mistrusting in equal parts of corporate America and politicians, Bloodland will strike a cord with most audiences, even those who aren't conspiracy theory buffs.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 18, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It looks like I'm in the minority, as a number of reviewers have said it took them a while to get into the book (or that it was "slow to get started"). I didn't find that to be the case. I loved every minute of the "slow boil" in this excellent thriller. I love a good conspiracy story, and this one did not disappoint. Too many thrillers are more action and little mystery, and too many mysteries lack any kind of action. This book is a good combination of both. Good character development, plausible story (eerily so, in some ways), and solid plotting make for a great read. Highly recommended for thriller fans.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The narrative in Alan Glynn's new novel Bloodland alternates between passages about an Irish reporter investigating a helicopter crash that killed a movie star (and four others) and sections telling about various people involved in a conspiracy which might tie in to the chopper crash in some way. It eventually expands into a morality tale focusing on the vast power of big business to operate outside of governments, the law, and the awareness of the public. One security firm, Gideon Global, is clearly a stand-in for the Blackwaters of the world. There's also a global conglomerate like GE, headed by a shadowy, all-powerful CEO.

In my reading of Bloodland it broke down into two chunks. First was the setup, where the reporter, Jimmy, looks into the initial details of the chopper crash. During this first part of the book, there are also dozens of pages telling about the conspirators, including a couple of the corporate types, a former PM of Ireland, and a high-level PR guy. This initial section of the book dragged on too long for me, with each of the conspirators fearing that aspects of their as-yet-unknown misdeeds would come out, especially after they learn about Jimmy's investigation. It's a good third of the way into the novel before anything dangerous happens (i.e., too slow of a pace for a thriller), and (Spoiler Alert) the central character of Jimmy isn't even in any real jeopardy until the book's final act. Still, there is some excitement as the nature of the larger conspiracy is revealed. That 2nd chunk of Bloodland, the "men behaving badly" portion, was more entertaining, kind of like Elmore Leonard with the humor removed, but it still suffered from a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion (although the author undoubtedly wanted to leave questions in the reader's mind). Also, reading about the Big Bad Global Corporation(s) in this story felt somewhat stale to me. I.e., knowing what we do about the real-life Blackwaters out there, the fictional one here has a "been-there" quality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
I understand the technique of withholding information to create suspense, but this is ridiculous. We have all these characters it a state of panic and after 100 pages absolutely nothing has happened. Repeatedly a character will come to the brink of explaining what everyone is so worked up about and then the narrative shuts down. It happens so often it starts to be funny, unintentionally funny. The problem is that the characters know what happened and they just aren't completing their thoughts about it. It is not as if we are following a detective who is trying to put the pieces together. The information is deliberately being withheld. That does not create suspense. In fact, nothing could live up to this much buildup. You start to think, whatever it is, just deal with it! Furthermore, all these characters are in such an overwrought state that they all sound exactly alike. You keep having to go back and see who is talking now. In a novel like this, you need at least one narrative voice that is genuinely trying to discover what happened. The reader does not have a sufficient ally here and so the whole thing is just a muddle.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Lots of players. A puzzle for the reader to solve or at least try to follow. But it was a slog. And not terribly enjoyable at that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Just finished Bloodland after a marathon session. Couldn't put it down. This deserves to be a movie too (Bradley Cooper's great movie "Limitless" - was based on Glynn's book "The Dark Fields").

Eerily plausible plot that stays on the right side on the conspiracy theory line - real world characters and an ominous sense of foreboding that builds as the plot unfolds. The ending is masterful.
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