'Blood Oath' a Hitchcockian Suspense Thriller

posted Aug 21, 2014, 9:05 AM by Martin Roy Hill   [ updated Aug 4, 2015, 4:10 PM ]

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Peter Houston, an American novelist, travels to France to pay homage to the father he never knew, an American soldier killed in action in the weeks following the Normandy invasion. When he discovers there is no record of his father being buried in any of the American war cemeteries, Houston begins looking for a Frenchman who promised the writer's mother he would look after the dead soldier's grave. Houston's search threatens to uncover long buried secrets, and suddenly finds Houston targeted by unknown forces. Those forces make one deadly mistake, they kill the woman Houston loves and when he swear a blood oath, Houston turns from being the hunted to being the hunter.

David Morrell's Blood Oath is a classic Hitchcockian mystery; that is, a story about an ordinary man who innocently becomes embroiled in deadly enigma and is forced to take action to save himself and those he loves. One can almost imagine Cary Grant as Houston. And like a good Hitchcock movie, Blood Oath soon turns from mystery to thrilling suspense.

Beyond the mystery and suspense, however, this is also the story about a boy who grows up without his father. Father-son relations often play a part in Morrell's novels, and none more than Blood Oath. As Morrell explains in the forward, he grew up never knowing his father, a Canadian pilot who was killed in WWII. Like Houston, Morrell began a search to learn more about the man, a search that eventually led him to a war grave in the United Kingdom. While reading Blood Oath, it wasn't difficult to hear Morrell's childhood pain in Houston's childhood angst.

In the end, Blood Oath is a fine mystery thriller, one of Morrell's best.

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