Blood Standard by Laird Barron

Review by Patrick R McDonough

Isaiah Coleridge isn’t a guy you’d want to ever anger. He isn’t a guy that is necessarily bad, though. Just a man who grew up into a family and lifestyle, really. A man that reminded me a lot of Max Payne, only, Coleridge isn’t a police officer. He’s anything but. An enforcer sent to Alaska to keep an eye on a few things. As we soon find out, he does more than play the spectator role. Coleridge is an automated piece of flesh-and-muscle device that makes things happen. Bones snap, legs break, and people spill their guts.

Throughout the book Coleridge proves to be some kind of unstoppable person. I sat back and listened to this audio book unfold as I saw him go from Alaska to New York where it was very clear from the beginning that he was a magnet for this sort of life style. That even if he was bested in the moment, he’d end up winning in the end. Coleridge ends up on a farm that’s hard work for most folks, but Isaiah isn’t most folks. A girl that works on the farm too, one that doesn’t care much for Coleridge, ends up going missing. From then on, the book turns into a missing person case.

Not sure what else to say about a book that has been out for a few years with more than enough reviews from readers and fellow reviewers alike. It’s a book full of brutality with a heart. The heart of a beaten guard dog that only knows how to bite the bad guy. Maybe the good guy a little bit too.

Get to know this beast. If you’re nice to it, it may just be your friend.

Grade: B

I purchased the audio book of this for review.

Review by Brennan LaFaro

I tend to be picky with books in this genre, but seeing Laird Barron sidestep from his unique brand of horror to write action/crime, was enough to grab my attention. Blood Standard and its sequels take us on a first-person journey with Isaiah Coleridge, a former mob enforcer who moves from the wild frontiers of Alaska to upstate New York. Out of necessity, sure, but working toward a simpler life.

Barron establishes early on, however, that Coleridge is not the kind of guy who’s going to easily allow himself to slip into the simple life. I mentioned the first person POV, and honestly, that’s one thing that really worked for me in this book. We take a man the size of a bear and throw him into situations where he’s expected to be a tough guy, it’d be too easy for this setup to fall into familiar, and boring, territory.

Laird avoids that with two key ingredients. First, a phenomenal supporting cast. Everyone at the farm has a unique personality, making for exciting and interesting interactions. Favorite among these is Lionel. We get a hint there is a lot more backstory to be told, just one additional reason I’ll be needing to check out Black Mountain. Second is the genuine sense of humor. Coleridge is an unabashed smartass. Combine the comedy with the action, and the nearly 400 page novel doesn’t have so much as a dull page.

Laird Barron paints the pages with some other unique additions, such as Coleridge’s half-Maori ancestry and his love of animals. Interesting details, certainly, but crucial to the plot as well, and the story behind the dog tags Coleridge carries, especially knowing Barron’s real-life parallels grounds the story in a human and relatable way.

Blood Standard is funny when it needs to be. It’s poignant when it needs to be. It’s brutal when it needs to be. What makes the gears turn is that the author knows exactly what buttons to press and when to press them. Also, we got to see some nazi asses kicked. Who doesn’t want to see that right now?

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