TITLE: Red Means Run
AUTHOR: Brad Smith
RATING: 4 Stars
(Please stop by and visit Brad's Facebook page)
I have to admit that I had never read anything by Brad Smith before. However, I had been hearing good things, in the "blogworld" so when Simon & Schuster contacted me about doing a blog tour, I jumped on the opportunity.
My overall impression of this book is that it is an engaging and fun read - but it is NOT a light read. What do I mean by that? Well, Red Means Run's plotline AND fairly heavy cast of characters demands focus. There is alot going on in this storyline and there are a lot of characters, which, for me, meant that I could not grab a quick 5 minutes here and there with this book, but rather, I dedicated some quality time to sitting down and savoring the story and discovering just how each character fit into the plotline.
Actually, this was a perfect read for me, as I was looking for something that would completely engross me and this book did that throughout the entire read.
Yes, it is a "whoddunnit" but the author also challenges us to connect with the main story and, of course, the characters. I loved the Claire Marchand character as she was a strong female role, bright and no nonsense who did not stop digging until she found the truth. I realize that Virgil could be considered the "driving force" behind the storyline, but I still believe that Claire was the backbone of this story.
I also liked the fact that the author picked, in my opinion, a very original murder weapon - this told me immediately that this would not be your everyday "murder" story and frankly, it intrigued me. (As a side note, I did ask the author why he chose this particular weapon - see his answer below).
Red Means Run also offered me another treat - the fact that I could not figure out, until the end, whether Virgil was actually the killer - or not! At times, I thought he definitely was and then, at other times, I was sure he wasn't - which left me surprised by the ending. I love when a book keeps me guessing the entire time :) It is a sure sign that the author took the time to craft a well structed plotline.
So, I can happily say that my first Brad Smith experience was a great one and I highly recommend this read to anyone who is looking for an intriguing and entertaining whodunnit!! and the best part? there is a sequel in the works!!! (love the comparison to Clint Eastwood - by the way).
The author also graciously agreed to answer a few questions:
1) The murder weapon is intriguing - why did you choose it?
Thank you Brad!
Actually, I chose the location first, Tina… and then picked a suitable weapon. I needed something silent and appropriate for the spot.
2) Publishers Weekly has called this novel more character driven. Do you agree and if so, why did you choose this route?
As opposed to story-driven? I think all my stuff fits that description. There are only so many stories out there – and a wise man once noted that Shakespeare told them all – so the difference lies in the characters. And not only in the characters, but in their interactions with each other. Like Virgil and Claire, for instance.
3) Where did you get the idea for this novel?
I had an idea about an ex-athlete (Virgil) trying to figure out his next move in life. And – as is often the case – it turns out to be something he falls into. He stops to visit an old friend – a former coach - and ends up, quite serendipitously, becoming a farmer. The sub-plots came, in part, from the newspaper - the record producer charged with murder, the multi-millionaire mistreating horses, etc.
4) Can you explain how you chose your title, which I find interesting.
Red Means Run comes from Neil Young’s song Powderfinger, which figures prominently in the book, particularly in the resolution. So, I wanted to take that a step further and use part of the lyric in the title. At one point I decided to call the book Big John’s Been Drinking Since The River Took Emmy-Lou (another line from the same song)…but I decided that was it just a little bit too unwieldy. So I went through the song again and Red Means Run jumped out at me.
5) Can you tell us about your next book?
It’s another Virgil Cain book. This time Virgil’s out fishing for stripers on the Hudson River and he hooks a steel cylinder containing a couple million dollars’ worth of pure cocaine (again based on a true story). He is then beset by drug dealers, crooked cops, and a crazy Russian who thinks he’s the second coming of Clint Eastwood.