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Prodigal Blues Hardcover – Special Limited Edition, November 30, 2006
After he finds himself stranded at a truck stop in Missouri, Mark Sieber gets one of the biggest shocks of his life when he recognizes the face of a little girl on a Missing poster as belonging to the same little girl he saw only a few minutes before. Looking around for some sign of her, he comes back to his table in the restaurant to find the little sitting there, waiting for him.
"I'm sorry, mister," is all she seems capable of saying.
As the police and media begin to converge on the truck stop, Mark retreats back to his hotel room to call his wife and let her know what's going on, only to be taken hostage by the same people who released the little girl. But his abductors are little more than children themselves.
Ranging in ages from 12 to 19, Mark's abductors are in the process of escaping from a sadistic pedophile known to them only as "Grendel" a man whose practices include torture and mutilation specifically, mutilation of the face.
Mark's abductors have all been mutilated by Grendel who may be very close behind them and need someone with a "normal face" to help them carry out their plan for justice and returning home.
For the next few days, Mark will come to understand not only the inhuman horror that these children have suffered, but how they eventually learned to fight back and how they discovered that Grendel and his practices are at the center of a very complex network catering to those who tastes run toward the molestation and mutilation of children.
Prodigal Blues is perhaps Braunbeck's most suspenseful and emotionally powerful work to date; a story of suffering, depravity, redemption, and in the end the individual's compassion for his or her fellow human beings that can lead some people to finding reserves of courage and determination they never thought they possessed.
Terrifying, suspenseful, sometimes surprisingly funny, and ultimately moving, Prodigal Blues is quintessential Braunbeck.
This is a poignant cautionary thriller that grips readers from the moment the hero is abducted and never slows down until the final twist. --Midwest Book Review
5 stars...this is, by far, superior to anything and everything he's ever done before. I will never look at a crying child the same again. Why does he get a 5?... for making me wipe angry tears of distraught empathy off the visage that had become statuesque in my fevered attempt to read, absorb, and become part of the symphonic beauty that lies between the covers of Prodigal Blues. --Horror-Web
- Publisher : Cemetery Dance Publications; 1st edition (November 30, 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1587671093
- ISBN-13 : 978-1587671098
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9.25 inches
- Customer Reviews:
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Disturbing, interesting and consisting of a villain who is handled very well. Strong desire to keep reading it and find out what would happen.
Characters are well formed and their dialogue natural for the most part. Some funny parts too based on some of the narrator's observations.
However there's a few things that prevent this from being a 5 star book. There are some very frustrating parts where there are pertinent questions that anyone would ask in that situation that don't get put forward by the main character, such as: "Where is the bad guy right now?" Main character just makes this strange assumption when another character mentions that he shot a man, main character assumes it was their captor.
Another: Main character doesn't think to read the number plates to the bus and trailer upon seeing the missing person poster for Denise. Maybe understandable to let a guard know at first, but then to not tell them which vehicle he saw her in or check plates at that point, very unrealistic.
One character is meant to be 12 but speaks like someone who is 40. Another is meant to be 20 but the main character mentions they "look like old buddies discussing their kids", when he and the character are chatting. Issues that could've been resolved fairly easily by the author.
Still a horrifying read and leaves a strong emotional impact no doubt.
Characters are well written (you get to know and love (or hate Grendel and his "business associates"). I can't tell you how many times I had to put the book down for a break to get my heart rate down to (somewhat) normal. I felt everything those children went through and the love they needed and their families they missed. I felt empathy for Mark and the children but nothing but hatred for Grendael--the evil one. Mark and Christopher, Thomas, Arnold and Rebecca were all heroes in their own way. I liked Mark's psychology used in situations.
I'll be reading many more of Gary A. Braunbeck's books.
1. I don't want the story to end and
2. I find myself re-reading passages because of just how good Braunbeck is with language, cadence, and emotion.
Prodigal Blues was no exception. It's a tale of humanity, humility, and one of hope. It's also not for the faint of heart. You'll read it and say, "Nothing in life is that cruel, that unjust...that monstrous". And if you're like me, when you find yourself alone in a crowd--at a park, a mall, a subway stop--you'll add, "At least I hope it's not."