Alan S. Blood’s: Cry Of The Machi, A Suffolk Murder Mystery is an interesting addition to the growing supernatural murder genre. Neither strictly fantasy nor crime procedural this type of novel tries to combine two of the most popular genres in publishing today. Cry Of The Machi has an engrossing story to tell centered around the attempt by beautiful Charlotte Rossini to escape her brutal marriage to her mob boss husband Carl. She flees to rural Thorpe Amberly, Suffolk, England to live a simple life as a school teacher. Hot on her heels is the ubiquitous down on his luck retired New York City police detective Kelvin McQuaid. His job is to find her and bring her back at all costs. He is sufficiently competent at detecting to find the only blond, American hiding in a rural English Village.
Charlotte tries to blend in and has encounters with various dope smokers, lesbians and other colorful denizens of this backwater. Also living in the Village is Lionel Palfrey, a world traveler with early childhood connections to the mysterious Machi, a shamanistic religious cult from Patagonia in South America. The local scene and the book is dominated by the local Morris dancers. The author, Alan Blood, is himself a Morris dancer and clearly has a soft place in his heart for the traditions and folklore associated with the dancers. A diificulty in the book is that these traditions and folklore are not explained or sufficiently intergrated into the plot. Certainly most American readers will be unfamiliar with who and what the Morris dancers are and because of this their portrayal comes off sad and comical. The book spends an inordinate amount of time playing up the inner relationships between the dancers when ultimately it has no bearing on anything going on.
Murder and mayhem follow as an unknown serial killer stalks the Village. Charlotte’s husband arrives personally after he is informed that Charlotte is sleeping with one of the Villagers. More murder and mayhem follow. Ultimately, the forces of good symbolised the reformed ex-cop and Lionel Palfrey’s connection to the Machi becomes central to setting matters right.
This book has a good concept and potentially interesting characters. It is well written and the plot is strong.Unfortunately it suffers from a rare disease in fantasy : the book is too short. At only 147 pages it fails to explain the Morris dancers and more importantly it barely touches on the Machi and therefore robs the ending of resonance and sense. Hopefully we will see more of Mr. Blood and an expanded version of his interesting concepts.