Blood Sacrifice by Barry Hoffman
Next Century Publishing (March 2017)
408 pages; $12.95 paperback; $7.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
Barry Hoffman is back with a kick-ass thriller that is also a horror novel, crime novel, supernatural novel and more, all wrapped up in a story which races by in what can easily be called his best effort since his “Eyes” series. Blood Sacrifice brings into the fold a set of new characters which hopefully will be returning in future entries.
If the reader is familiar with Hoffman, her or she knows certain elements will always be present: twists and curves which are rarely seen coming; antagonists who are just as human as the protagonists; settings urban and in your face; a strong element of sexuality and race tension. Yet the major draw of his writing is without a doubt the strong, unique female characters. It would be tough to top Sharra from his previous series, a woman who would take down any man, but whose character arc rivaled some of the best in the genre.
In Blood Sacrfice, the readers are treated to several. First, newbie Thea comes from the Philly Police Academy, the first ever openly lesbian cadet, now on the fast track to homicide detective if she can battle her own department, especially her new partner Ariel. When “The Other,” a new serial killer, falls into their laps, things appear like they might run the typical route of a standard crime thriller.
Yet Hoffman always veers off course into something more intriguing than the typical. Enter Ali, who at first appears to be a caricature of a runaway teen. She brings fire to the novel. The girl wields a certain power, although not one of violence. She can cure the emotional scars of others, almost in a messianic manner. This supernatural element, like the forest in the Sharra Faris series, pushes the novel over the top and leads Thea and Ariel into uncharted territory. The character tensions between Ariel and Thea help round out both leads, and Ali’s addition promises to bring great things for the future.
Those familiar with Hoffman’s novels know he doesn’t shy away from sex and violence; here, it’s dealt with so well, it doesn’t divert from the story. It adds to it. Also, race has been a strong element of his books and series, likely from a history of working in the inner city Philadelphia school systems. This cuts a strong undercurrent but doesn’t overwhelm the main plot.
In this reviewer’s opinion, Blood Sacrifice is just as strong as Born Bad, a fan favorite. Recommended for fans of the crime thriller that does much more than expected.