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3.9 out of 5 stars50
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 2014
As a reader, I love nothing more then a consuming, taut crime novel. I recently bought a Kindle (although I swore I never would, I love real books too much) and I downloaded some of my old favourites. Lee Child, Brett Battles, the usual suspects. I have ventured into writing a novel recently and I heard about this book on Twitter during many follows, retweets and general networking activity. Needless to say, social networking has presented me with many a book to read...which is never a bad thing.

Now, this title has the distinction of being my first downloaded book. I read a few short stories before it, but this book kept me hooked from beginning to end. I have read other reviews for Bourbon & Blood and some have been favourable (rightly so) and some not so much. The problem is, the unfavourable reviews seem to sometimes miss the point of the book and its protagonist, Bill Conlin.

Hayes evidently has a love for the crime genre. As you read the book, it is bred from being exposed to the world via the movies and books. Exposed and inspired. Something I can relate to. With such a love for his craft, Hayes portrays a realistic, gritty, violent portrayal of New York that can only be created from living in the city itself. Knowing Hayes is a resident of New York, it makes sense that he uses this as his setting. It helps keep the book grounded and real. He is also able to minimise the clichés, something that benefits the story as a whole.

Being a huge movie fan myself, its clear that Hayes knows when cliché has a risk of ruining the text. We may have seen this sort of tale before, from many other authors, but Hayes conveys the story from a first person narrative that is both addictive and mesmerising. His spin is truly unique. True, he may veer into unrealistic territory now and then with the shoot outs, the lone hero who takes on the world and violence only comic books would make cool. But isn't this the point of fiction? To suspend your belief and let the ride take you wherever the author chooses? Conlin is clearly a trained soldier who is simply looking for work. Using his skills in a dangerous world is second nature to any soldier. My point is, the book harks back to the days of 80's action movies, quality gangster flicks such as The Godfather and noir thrillers from the 60's and 70's. Whether this was the intention or not, it really makes for a great read.

The book flies by at a rapid pace, not letting up. This is something rarely seen in crime fiction. Personally I love a book that goes into detail and takes it time to get to the point but sometimes I love to sit down, read a book, and let it take me along without stopping. Bourbon & Blood did just that. It had detail, enough to keep you informed, but the action, pace and plot was so frantic, it really gave you an idea of Bill Conlin's plight. Caught up in a world of crime, conspiracy and corruption, our main character is thrown from one dangerous situation to the next, hardly able to breathe or rest. Writing of this nature really allows you to step into the characters shoes and get a taste of what he was experiencing. At one point, I swear I could taste Knob Creek on my lips...during one chapter, my doorbell rang and it made me jump. I was really immersed in the world itself.

Bourbon & Blood is one of those little gems that come along now and then. I can now say I have completed my first Kindle novel, and what a way to debut on the device. Why not five stars? For me, it seemed a little short. Which is a good thing, it means I will definitely buy any sequels to this. There were also a few spelling errors, but this never took away from the story itself. Overall though, this was a great debut novel for a writer who clearly has big things in his future. For this price, you won't find anything better.
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on 23 August 2014
Bill Conlin has just left the military after a tour in Afghanistan. He spends time with his cousin Jimmy and trying to figure out what to do with his life next. Jimmy keeps encouraging Bill to talk to his boss. Bill isn't sure that's what he wants. Eventually, he does meet with Mr. Sullivan and begins to work for him. About this time, Bill also met Dana. She was sassy and beautiful. He knew he wanted her in his life forever. It seemed however, working for Mr. Sullivan took more of Bill's time than he imagined it would.
Before long, Bill finds out nothing is as it seems. He needs to be on his guard at all times. This is a war of a different kind.

When you begin this book, it has the feel of an old black and white movie. Each page pulls you in deeper and deeper. You'll feel as though you are there witnessing it in person. My breath was taken away by the writing of this book. Everything just flows so well. The characters are terrific. I found it impossible to put this book down. I was rooting for Bill and Dana throughout. This is one book you will read again and again.

I found no issues with this one.

I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because it is wonderful. It's graphic but wonderful.

~Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a fair review~
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on 31 October 2013
Very poor similar story line of ex soldier becoming "gun for hire etc" has been used many times by different authors to better affect Every tired cliche reference gangsters and hit men etc are used and basically there was nothing new about this book I gave up after reading 50%.
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on 2 September 2013
I absolutely loved this book. Read it in under 2 days as I couldn't put it down. From the very start to the final page it was pretty much full on action. The characters were compelling and the spiral into the nightmare Bill finds himself in was told with such vision and description I could almost taste NYC and feel the stress he was going through. Get it!
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on 30 June 2014
I started reading this book thinking it was very 1950’s film noir-ish, but it transformed into very much a RocknRolla type thing, but then something utterly amazing happened and I felt I was reading a novel that would easily match the intricate plot line of The Departed. I enjoyed every second of reading this book! I couldn’t get enough of Bill Conlin and I could see Jason Statham doing justice to this role! You know a good book when you get completely absorbed and forget the world around you, and as far as I was concerned I was right in there with Bill, Jimmy and the gang, ducking the bullets and doing dodgy deals. As a writer myself, it is always interesting to see how violence is portrayed, and how far an author will go. My books are graphic and extreme violence is everywhere. This book is a little less explicit but as far as I’m concerned, you can’t tell a story about New York gangs from rival Irish, Russian and Mexican crews without a bit of blood, guts and gore! It’s all in context and makes the story a really riveting read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes gutsy crime thriller with more twists than your average country lane. To my mind, it was a fabulous and I look forward to the next book in the series.
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on 25 October 2013
In my view, this book is utter dross. The plot is ridiculous; one man shooting a dozen or so drug barons and henchmen every now and again, and one of the central characters double-crosses everyone in sight. Probably he double-crosses himself before the end (I didn't finish the book). I would not recommend this book to anyone.
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on 10 November 2013
This is the most amateurishly written book I have ever read since leaving school! The characters and plot are completely unbelievable, I carried on till the end in the hope that it would get better, it didn't!, it got worse!, just as well it was free!
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on 25 February 2015
Not my normal choice of genre, but it was a treat to discover how much I enjoyed a tale of hoodlums and gangs in New York.
Garrard Hayes writes extremely well and tells a great story of an Army veteran returning to New York and being sucked into the seedier side of life. Who knew that gang members smoked constantly! (Maybe as an ex smoker I did notice more than others might every time they lit up!)
Bourbon and Blood is a great book that I would recommend to anyone who likes the genre, but also for those looking for a different kind of read.
Looking forward to the sequel!
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on 18 October 2013
Books you can really get your teeth into don't explore one theme, they deal with several that weave together in a magic carpet that takes you flying high into the sky where you have a bird's eye view of the dilemmas mere mortals have to deal with down below. For a moment, you are suspended, God-like, in that privileged position if being outside the herd looking in.

Garrard Hayes does that in Bourbon & Blood. With a fine brush he paints a portrait of war hero Bill Conlin until we can see ever wrinkle and tic, ever doubt and hope, every busted dream and lost tomorrow. Bill's an Afghan vet. He's done his tours. Now he wants a life. And he wants love in the shapely shape of Dana, the diner waitress. She deserves better than that. Can he give it to her. Not without a decent job. Good pay. A future.

Trouble is, Bill Conlin has only one real skill - a special forces skill for weapons, combat, survival. His cousin introduces him to crime boss Frank Sullivan, but that's not what he's looking for. Until it comes looking for him. From downtown to uptown. From rags to silk ties and tailored suits. From the poverty tracks to the 24/7 murky money-making machines of drugs, slavery, prostitution, organized crime and moral ambiguity. This is neo-noir, totally compulsive, one man who may seem like he his taking on the world but is, in the final analysis, taking on himself.
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on 7 February 2014
Bourbon & Blood gripped me in the first few pages and held tightly throughout. I enjoy dark, gritty noirs such as this, and Garrard Hayes delivered the goods in a convincing way. This story's underbelly was filled with disturbing and raspy imagery and throbbed an unsettling pulse throughout the entire plotline. If noir fiction is what you're after, you can't go wrong with this book...Bourbon & Blood is the real deal!
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