Blood Line is the debut novel of the Granger Spy thriller series by John J. Davis, following the enigmatic Ron Granger and his unusually talented family – thoughtful and unstoppable wife, Valerie, curious and intuitive daughter, Leecy – after what seems to be a simple home invasion turns out to be something far more serious than suspected. As the interests of the DOD and the global arms trade all find themselves resting on the (mostly) unsuspecting Grangers, the truths of Ron’s background, and a twin career as family businessman and CIA agent come to light, making for an explosive family vacation in a bid to keep the Grangers together, and maybe stop a global conspiracy or two on the way.
Blood Line is a snazzy novel that clearly has gone the right direction for publication and professional edge in its production, from sharp editing to a hot cover that evokes the same fast-and-furious yet sleek-and-brutal design of the hottest Tom Clancy or Andy McNab. With glowing reviews littering the cover, it’s hard to keep your hopes from rising, and from the first page the book hits you with a hard-hitting slice of action with a chilling eye for detail. The book’s bombastic intro sets the bar high, and while striving to keep to the same standard throughout from there on, the plot quickly drops into a rather more subdued interrogation and intrigue for a good portion of the book, going into family ties, US conspiracies and a bit of insider history on Mossad. It’s a slight turn, but it’s not unsuccessful for it, showing itself as a good contemporary spy thriller as the plot begins to thicken and there’s a chance for its cast to introduce themselves properly. From the very start it’s quite hard to find a moment’s rest in the book with a constant assault of high-tension writing, and every chapter gives out a lot of bang for buck, for better or worse. It takes a few chapters to know whether you’ll definitely enjoy it, but once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.
While feeling a bit too perfect at times, the Granger family and their bond is indeed very believable. If Bryan Mills from Taken were to retire early he might have become Ron Granger, and his lifelong paranoia might have prepared his family in the same subtle ways. Even the ill-informed teenage daughter Leecy has soaked up a great deal of information and skill from her parents, and takes to the situation like a duck to water; implications of a family knack for spy work are only a little cheesy, and easy to forgive as the plot manages to work it all into a cohesive story web. Leecy as well as Ron and Valerie are good solid characters, and a strong female cast is a pleasant appearance in a very machismo-oriented genre, even though by far the most prominent focus is that of Ron himself, who even takes on narrating events to the reader with a characteristic professionalism. Ron and Valerie feel very close and connected as a couple and their love for each other and their very trusting daughter are very clear despite the hiccups they all live through. The author’s experience of family values shine through regularly and it’s a bright edge to an otherwise rather dark book of backstabbing and desertion.
Blood Line has a bit of a shaky start and occasionally straddles the line between popcorn-flick writing and gritty realism, but nevertheless it comes out as a very fun and quite original read. A sequel – Blood Truth – is on the way to follow up from a pleasant, wry final twist at the book’s end, and will hopefully see the family’s tested mettle get given an even rougher treatment with their new if questionable alliances. Thankfully the book stands perfectly well on its own, and the obvious final hook doesn’t at all cheapen the sense of achievement at the end of the story, keeping as a self-contained read like many others in the genre wisely choose to do. It’s a great start to the series, and hopefully the first of many fantastic reads from this author.