Cover image for Blood mud
Blood mud
Constantine, K. C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
375 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Once public detective, now turned private, Mario Balzic is hired to track down the missing guns from the local gun shop for the insurance company. But no one knows better than this seasoned officer that stolen guns can only point to bigger trouble. It's not long before Balzic's dogged sleuthing points to a wide variety of suspects; a corrupt married politico cheating with a stripper; a police chief hungry for the influence a little improved firepower can buy; a dell owner who mixes racketeering with the cold cuts; and the gangster's hapless nephew, framed for selling porn and drugs. As if that weren't enough to handle, Balzic is soon brought low by a sudden cardiac episode. Now an intimately personal crisis combines with an equally sudden murder to turn a solitary job into a singular mission: stay alive, at least long enough to crack one more case.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

For a quarter century, in 15 mostly brilliant novels, Constantine has been illuminating a Rust Belt city's economic collapse and the parabolic curve of the career and life of its chief of police. In Blood Mud, Rocksburg, Pennsylvania's, economy has bottomed. Formerly well-paid mill workers are shell-shocked survivors in a service economy. Former chief of police Mario Balzic has been retired for several years, but he and his wife Ruth are still edgily trying to adjust to full-time togetherness. Raising the marital tensions are Mario's unvoiced fears of memory lapses and strange twinges in his neck and chest, but before he can even start a potentially distracting private investigation of a patently bogus insurance claim filed by a gunshop owner, he suffers a cardiac "event." A carbide-tipped drill roots the "blood mud" out of a clogged artery, but the gaping psychological wounds opened by the event will have Mario's many fans wondering if the author is about to plant the sturdy Balzic. Constantine knows that Faulkner was right: the only subject truly worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself. The evocation of Mario's fears and inner conflicts, told through agonizingly wonderful dialogue between husband and wife, raises this latest Balzic novel to the level of the best contemporary literature. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0892966475Thomas Gaughan

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the bleak, industrial no-man's-land of central Pennsylvania sits Rocksburg, the town Constantine has put to such good use in his Mario Balzic and other mysteries (Brushback, etc.). Now, retired police chief Balzic, conscientious and cranky, is hired by an insurance lawyer to investigate a claimed loss of 40-plus handguns and 30,000 rounds of ammunition stolen from a firearms company. Bored with retirement, trying to ignore his wife's suggestions that he exercise more and they move to Florida, the self-described "old geezer" eagerly takes the job. Of course, what he uncovers is more complicated and corrupt than a simple heist. As is typical of Constantine's dark, gritty novels, the pitch-perfect dialogue carries a zigzag plot, full of idiosyncratic characters, that is beautifully developed and enigmatically resolved. Balzic's warm, often combative relationship with his wife intensifies when he suffers a "coronary event" and must face his fear of death and his guilt over unresolved cases. To compensate, he reads books by Dean Ornish, Herbert Benson and Robert Sarno given to him by his daughter, eats more veggies and practices yoga and meditation. But what really takes his mind off the "blood mud" clogging his arteries is his need to see justice served. Constantine rarely falters as he again scrutinizes a dying small town where politicians, cops and crooks divide up the diminishing spoils, and where people are still judged by their ethnic background. Balzic, meanwhile, continues to age ungracefully, cursing his deteriorating physique, hearing and memory in some very funny scenes that nearly relieve the darker doings elsewhere. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved