On the pages of this book we meet Michael Renton, his wife Bonnie and Bonnie’s family. Michael’s marriage is failing because in order to support his growing family he works away from home all week long and doesn’t give his wife as much time and attention as she would have liked. So what’s Bonnie’s solution to the problems? She goes off and finds herself a lover, Ian Walker and slowly (also in a very calculated and methodical way) removes herself and their children from Michael’s life without his knowledge. Her parents, who happen to consider themselves good, church going people, have no problem with accepting Ian as their daughter’s true love and a better father to their grandsons, while their son-in-law busts his butt as a blue collar worker so his wife can have a better life. One can imagine Michael’s shock when he accidentally discovers his wife in bed with a stranger. The shock was so huge that it ended “with a bang”. In a split second Michael decides to shoot Bonnie and Ian, and so end his own life as he knew it. He now has to run, run from authorities, family and from himself. The escape takes him to the Appalachian trail where he plans to die. Unbeknownst to him, Michael is being hunted by someone who wants revenge and won’t stop until it’s executed.
I think that for a debut novel, Mark did a darn good job. Blood on His Hands is a solid, engaging read for thriller fans. The action was flowing smoothly and the story did pull me in quite quickly, I must say. I started reading the book in the morning and finished it in the evening the same day. It obviously wasn’t boring in the least. The thing I liked the most was the way Mark introduces the reader into the whole broken family situation and gave me a new perspective on the killer, with whom one usually does not sympathize. Not in this case. Maybe I’m just evil, but I couldn’t help but feel for Michael and understand the reasons behind what he did. I also found myself despising Bonnie’s parents who instead of advising her that maybe cheating on her husband wasn’t the best way to go about the whole ‘unhappy and stuck in a hopeless marriage’ situation, supported her lying, her unfaithfulness, and her misleading tactics. I am leaning towards Mark Sadler’s writing skills, rather than my evil self :).
Another really nice and really unexpected thing for a thriller, was Michael’s internal dialogue and struggle with what he’s done and where that one tragic decision left him and his sons. It wasn’t over the top, I never once thought, ‘Enough of the whining already’, and instead I wanted to find out how he’ll end up. I rooted for Michael because it was clear that he wasn’t a cold blooded psychotic killer. He simply made a very, very bad decision that changed him and people around him forever. And don’t think that it’s all seriousness all the time either. The author skillfully managed to insert humor into Michael’s life on the Appalachian Trail and I was smirking quite a few times.
Of course for a debut novel, there were a few plot glitches here and there. I think that the book could actually be longer. I was looking for more insight into how the two little boys dealt with their mother’s death and their father’s abandonment and instead it seemed like the sons were just necessary props but nothing more. There were a few editorial errors but that’s nothing that can’t be fixed next time around. Overall, I think that if you’re a fan of mystery/thriller books that are a fun and quick read, you should definitely give Blood on His Hands a try.
Special thanks to the author, Mark P. Sadler for sending me his book for review.
If you want to find out more about him and Blood on His Hands, please visit Mark's website