Pigeon Blood Red
Greed, power, unscrupulous methods and people who would do anything for revenge are at the heart of this novel as being unfaithful just turned deadly. Robert McDuffie is into gambling and owes a loan shark named Litvak a lot of money. Not knowing how he was going to pay him back and into him for helping fund his stores, McDuffie tried to talk his way out of having to pay the debt and get an increase in the time he was allotted. Litvak is cunning but obviously not cunning enough to get to know his own employees and when sending them to collect Robert they made a fatal mistake. With a priceless Ruby necklace as the cache in their hands Rico and Jerry hoped to deal with Robert, explain the situation and then make off with the necklace. But, evens transpired and somehow they did not see him grab the necklace put it in his pocket and make off with it non-the wiser at first.
Evelyn McDuffie is aware of her husband’s dalliances and has decided to teach him a lesson he just might never believe or forget. Taking a trip for their anniversary with her best friend Rachel was her idea of having fun at his expense. Planning the trip and coercing her to come was brilliance so she thought until Robert has to get away from this loan shark and decides he’s coming along at the last minute. Finding out where she is going and learning her itinerary he never suspects that Rico is hot on his trail with a loaded gun in hand. Enjoying the sights and going to a luau with her friend she meets Paul Elliot a friend from the past and the four become entwined in an adventure that will spiral events out of control and turn deadly. For anyone that thinks cheating is the answer to their marital problems you might and will think twice after hearing what happens next. Robert is a viable target and the necklace is what Rico is after and if killing him for Litvak is going to safe his tail then so be it. No one crosses Litvak and lives to talk about it not anyone. But, Rico is smart or so he thinks and has guts so when dealing with this drug lord, killer, and loan shark he manages to go to the college with Evelyn using her maiden name Rogers works and pretending to know her and stating his connection he finds out she’s on vacation but not where. Rico is relentless and finds another source of information and learns that although Robert says he’s headed for Miami thinking he might throw him off his scent, this man learns from someone else just where he is headed. Added in we learn about Rico and a woman named Jean and their unusual and personal relationship that might bring smiles to many faces and a touch of humor.
Robert makes his presence known to both Evelyn and Rachel thinking he might present her with this valuable Ruby necklace that he had appraised as an anniversary gift never thinking that Litvak would send anyone after him or would be able to find him but think again. Rico is an interesting character, who has panache, gall, spunk and tenacity when getting the job done. He does not always come out on top but that never lets him get down and he always winds up standing in place. With his partner Jerry that both try to complete their missions but sometimes events will come back and bite you when you least expect it.
As the plot becomes more complex author Ed Duncan has the reader understanding just why Litvak wants that ruby necklace back and at what cost to anyone’s life he will get it back even though he does not own it outright. Someone overhearing the owner of the necklace and learning she is going on a long cruise with her niece, he seizes the opportunity to steel it for Litvak and the deal is made so when the woman comes home why doesn’t she report it missing? The necklace was given to her many years ago before her husband passed away as a token of his love as the only way he could show emotions. But, no one really gets to hear her voice or understand her throughout the novel and will she get it back or will Robert hand it to Evelyn and will she keep it?
As they ready themselves for the luau it never dawns on Evelyn the deceptions that have been in place and the lies and betrayals about to be revealed as she learns that her best friend who is really cold and calculating is the other woman in her husband’s life. But, at a restaurant things become deadly as the killer strikes and ends two lives leaving Evelyn and Paul to fight their’s.
Hawaii is described vividly and the beaches and the fun times that Evelyn had before Robert and Rachel are killed. Hoping to put it behind her she realizes that someone just might come back and finish the job and she and Paul might be his next target but why? Learning more about Litvak and her husband’s link to him and getting the necklace appraised she learns the meaning and value of rubies classified as Pigeon Blood Red. This term has its origins in Burma and the people that are local living there refer to this ruby as Pigeon’s Blood although the term might be of Chinese origin. The color or the Ruby which is Pigeon Blood Red is compared or comparable to the first two drips of blood from the nose of a killed pigeon. The color has even been compared to the center of a live pigeon’s eye while other to the seed of a pomegranate, or find read without any blue tones. It remains the vibrant color of a ruby but most gemological labs use spectrophotometers to define and delineate the colors of terms coming up with it being called Pigeon Blood Red. Within the novel the author shares the appraisal of the gemologist enlisted by Paul and Evelyn to appraise this priceless necklace and the reader will be startled at its value allowing you to understand why Litvak wanted it back and why Robert stole it. The author’s research into the etymology of the ruby is quite extensive and illuminating. Sometimes greed and lust for power come into play when dealing with your own salvation.
Ray Gilbert wanted nothing more than to take Jerry’s life for taking the life of his brother but Jerry never saw the end coming and Rico although needing him to complete jobs with him was only concerned with his own life and the fact that Jerry died was left in the hands of Litvak to make sure he received his last rites. But, things spiral out of control as both Paul and Evelyn have to deal with the police, clear their names and hopefully escape Rico who seems to be five steps ahead of them even though they come up with a masterful plan to elude him as he follows them form hotel to hotel. But, sometimes things happen for a reason and although Rico thinks Litvak will call it even when the necklace is returned to him what happens when he meets with Rico will shock readers. Someone is after both Paul and Evelyn and someone just might come to their rescue but who and why? What happens when Paul realizes that sometimes someone you fear might turn out to be your salvation will you turn on that person even though you know they are guilty of a serious crime? An ending that you won’t expect and two people whose accidental meeting might be the start of a bright new beginning as the killer has to decide whether to take out Paul and Evelyn or risk the wrath of Litvak while Paul needs to decide whether to turn the killer in or be grateful that he stepped in and saved his life? A moral issue that does not get answered as this is the first in the Pigeon Blood series and the necklace just who has and where will it wind up? Will Katherine Coddington get it back? Will Detective Osaka find the killer? Will Paul let him get away? Moral issues that on you the reader can decide what he should do or what you would do in the same situation as Paul and Evelyn try to move ahead but will it be together or apart? An ending that leaves room for the sequel and allowing readers to know that author Ed Duncan just might bring them all back again.
Fran Lewis; Just reviews/MJ Magazine