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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning author Laird Barron makes his crime fiction debut with a novel set in the underbelly of upstate New York that's as hardboiled and punchy as a swift right hook to the jaw - a classic noir for fans of James Ellroy and John D. Macdonald. 

Isaiah Coleridge is a mob enforcer in Alaska - he's tough, seen a lot, and dished out more. But when he forcibly ends the moneymaking scheme of a made man, he gets in the kind of trouble that can lead to a bullet behind the ear. Saved by the grace of his boss and exiled to upstate New York, Isaiah begins a new life, a quiet life without gunshots or explosions. Except a teenage girl disappears, and Isaiah isn't one to let that slip by. And delving into the underworld to track this missing girl will get him exactly the kind of notice he was warned to avoid.

©2018 Laird Barron (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Massive, scarred Isaiah is a thug’s thug, but he’s also a well-read student of mythology. He’s indifferent to stab wounds and generates righteous mayhem in his quest. Fans of violent crime fiction will love this one and will be eager to hear more from Isaiah.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Laird Barron’s Blood Standard is stylish, witty, and stupendously entertaining, and it gives us a main character - Isaiah Coleridge, head-cracking classics-quoting half-Maori ex(ish)-gangster - who is entirely unforgettable.” (Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone)

“Rendered in icy strokes of prose, Laird Barron's Blood Standard is a remarkably self-assured crime novel - at once explosive and intimate, with a tightly wound plot and wonderfully realized characters. And then there's Barron's hero, Isaiah Coleridge. He's got a dead dog named Achilles and bits of Beowulf on his breath and in his teeth. Needless to say, there's not too many like him.” (Michael Harvey, author of Brighton and The Chicago Way)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

This one was OK

This one was OK, with enough twists and turns to hold my interest. It may have lost a little direction in the latter stages but I'm interested to see Laird Barron's next effort. With a bit more polish he has the potential to reach lofty heights as a story teller.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Decent First Foray into Crime Fiction for Barron

...but I'd be lying if I said it didn't have it's problems. First off, let me say that I enjoyed this title, and Mr. Barron seems to have a great amount of potential for this type of writing. There are comparisons made in the description to Ellroy and Macdonald, and having read neither (something to correct, perhaps) I think I'd put it in the Walter Mosley/Joe R. Lansdale camp for frame of reference.
I mentioned some problems. The first thing I'll point out is the pacing. This one's a slow burner (although there are some pretty good action scenes). People unfamiliar with Barron's work in horror fiction might be surprised by how dreamlike this novel can be. Hard boiled for sure, but also deliberate and ponderous. Indeed, dreams seem to be something of a theme here and dream sequences even move the plot forward a couple of times. I'm a little tempted to call that cliche, but this is Laird Barron we're talking about so most of those sequences are quite good and more than a little haunting.
No, the problems come in the form of unexplored (or at least under explored) and kind of dull side characters. They each seem as though they came out of a Crime-Noir-Starter-Kit: The kindly old couple who takes him in, the angsty teen who dislikes our protagonist then vanishes, the bad@$$ ex military sidekick, the father our protagonist hates, the love interest, various and sundry mobsters, crime bosses, gang members, rinse and repeat.
And you know what? I was fine with all that. Until the resolution of the mysterious disappearance that drives the whole plot. I won't ruin it for you here, but that kind of blew it for me. I get subverting expectations, but that was just a bridge too far. Don't misunderstand me... it all adds up but just felt...lazy.
Okay, so, you've made it through my entire first review. Do I recommend the book? Yep. Yes I do. The main character works. The setting works, and Barron's prose, gift for turn of phrase, knowledge of somewhat geeky topics such as samurai and mobster movies, as well having his Classic myths and legends down pat kept me pretty invested. There are some great lines in there. And seeing as this is the first in what's supposed to be a series, I can't imagine Mr. Barron won't continue to improve his craft even if Book One isn't perfect.
PS: William DeMeritt did a fine job with the narration. I thought at first that his voice might get monotonous, but there was more than enough hard edge to it to make it work well with the material. And his character voices were all quite good and distinguishable from one another.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well Played

Blood Standard beautifully fits Barron’s tone with all the grit and wit of his earlier work while holding on to the air dark mystery that I will always associate with him.

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Great read

A well paced interesting story. Protagonist is a great antihero who is at his best during the worst situations he finds himself. I would like to see more of this character perhaps even in a prequel as the story hints at an even darker past. Stylized and witty throughout. The excellent narration adds another fantastic layer as well.