‘Tom Bale’ exploded on the thriller scene with Skin and Bones – quite literally with its opening scene of a village under siege – and you’ll find the words ‘When a town is stalked by fear…’ on the cover of Blood Falls. The cause of the fear in Blood Falls is of a different variety, but it consolidates a running theme with Bale’s novels: the feature of a small, enclosed and insular community living under the power of one or more, and the intense pressure that provokes. Where Terror’s Reach, Bale’s second novel which introduced the series character Joe Clayton focused on a very small and tight community of the mega-rich, Blood Falls takes in a whole, small Cornish town with its inhabitants grateful for the actions of a few, but living in fear of its key exponent.
Joe Clayton is a man on the run. Constantly. He’d worked as an undercover officer until a case went very wrong for him. This resulted in a split from his family – his wife and daughters – for their safety. He has no idea where they are and no communication with them. He lives his unsupported life as a loner, a vagrant, always in search of cash-in-hand work and always with a fake identity. One day, while painting a property in Bristol, he hears the voice of a man from his past who would seek him dead. Loosely, he has been found, but he manages to escape the immediate threat and finds himself on the run again, seeking refuge. His one and only refuge at this time is with the widowed wife of a former colleague, Diana Bamber, in the Cornish town of Trelennan. Where Diana proves to be a jittery source of succour, the town appears to hate and certainly sidelines strangers and incomers. Through private company security activities, homebred Leon Race has criminality under control in Trelennan. But is Race all the good work he seems to the media and others in the face of Clayton’s arrival and investigative traits? And what has happened to a young woman who arrived in Trelennan only to go missing?
Clayton is a very human character, a man who does what he has to in order to survive. His curiosity and sense of justice, from his years as a police officer, mean that he is never selfish in his travels; he cannot avoid looking after and helping those in peril. Thus we are rooting for Clayton from the start and want to experience a good outcome.
Blood Falls is a fine page turner of a thriller and features again another Bale characteristic of note: no one draws thugs like this author for his villains are truly dirty, misguided and the sort of people you hope never to meet. More please.
Find out more about the author here and the novel is available on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) via this link. Other good reviews online – and there are only good ones – include those found at Mean Streets (crime blog from the Writers’ Workshop), Falcata Times (which also awarded 4 stars on Amazon) and finally, a feature in The Big Thrill, the monthly webzine of the International Thriller Writers.