About The “Pigeon-Blood Red” Trilogy:
Each installment in this edge-of-the-seat trilogy depicts a different violent encounter between two men from different sides of the tracks, Paul Elliott, a black lawyer, and Richard “Rico” Sanders, a killer with a conscience. The two men seemingly have nothing in common but each secretly harbors a grudging admiration for the other.
The plots of the three novels serve as devices to bring the men together in ways neither could have anticipated, obliging them to join forces in an uneasy alliance against a common foe.
In Pigeon-Blood Red a loan shark tasks Rico with recovering a priceless “pigeon-blood red” ruby necklace and at the same time sending a message to the thieves. Trouble is, the neckless falls into the hands of Paul’s girlfriend Evelyn, and Rico mistakenly believes she is one of the thieves.
In The Last Straw Paul and Evelyn shelter a teenage girl, a witness to a carjacking gone bad, from a hit man dispatched by a crime boss with no apparent motive. There is bad blood between Rico and the hit man, who, believing Paul and Rico to be friends, sets out to eliminate both of them.
In Rico Stays, after Rico is grievously wounded in a gun battle, his girlfriend Jean convinces Paul to let him hide out in Paul’s cabin while he recuperates. Using Jean as bait, gunmen seeking revenge come for Rico. The question becomes whether he will face them alone or with help from Paul.
Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan.
Pigeon-Blood Red Book 1.
For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job: retrieve his gangster boss’s stolen goods, and teach the person responsible a lesson.
But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu. There, the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory, when innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in a crime.
As Rico pursues his new targets, hunter and prey develop an unlikely respect for one another.
Soon, he is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the very people who have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
★★★★★ “Duncan crafts a twisted thriller in his gangster-laced debut.”
★★★★★ “This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans.”
★★★★★ “I would love to see this book made into a movie.”
RECOMMENDED by the US Review: “Duncan crafts a twisted thriller in his gangster-laced debut. The first in a trilogy, Duncan’s three-part plot is replete with a handful of colorful characters, many of which are dissimilar to a genre of this type. Additionally, Duncan’s style of storytelling is a product of strong cast development, plot fillers, engaging dialogue, and shifting character scenes… enough twists and turns as well as cliff-hanging chapters to keep his audience not only hooked until the end but also anticipating the next work in his series.”
Review by GREGORY: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. EXCELLENT STORY. Reviewed in the United States on July 24, 2023. Verified Purchase. First time reading anything from this author, and I must say, it did not disappoint! A very well written story with a few unexpected and clever ebbs and flows. The ending is very surprising and the entire book does nothing to make you expect the actual ending! A definite recommend, and I absolutely will be reading more from this author!
Review by Phil P.: 4.0 out of 5 Stars. Solid Read. Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2023. Verified Purchase. An innocent woman gets caught up in a mobster’s effort to recover a valuable necklace. You will be satisfied with the ending.
Review by Randall W. Perkins: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. An Incredible Story. Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2023. Verified Purchase. This is one of the oddest books I’ve ever read, but I also think it’s brilliant. There’s really no hero or heroine. It’s very realistic. I strongly encourage you to read it.
Review by ANTONIO SCHEFANO: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Surprises are in store. Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2023. Verified Purchase. Got to read when you have a lot of time to read. It is the kind of book that is hard to put down.
Review by babs memee: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Great storytelling. Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2022. Verified Purchase. I wasn’t sure I would like this book. It started out with the main character, Rico being a typical thug doing typical thug things. I thought it was going to be one of those cookie cutter formula type of books. However, it quickly changed. Different characters and angles to the story line started trickling in chapter by chapter and I was hooked.
He makes his characters interesting; he didn’t put in unnecessary violence and gore and he didn’t meander around trying to kill time till the end of the book.
While parts of the story were predictable and characters acted in the same old way at times, it was in a good way. A way that made you like them. I will be reading more of his books.
Review by Reader Editor: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Not Your Ordinary Killer. Reviewed in the United States on June 22, 2020. Verified Purchase. How many times have you read a mystery where you felt sympathy for the killer? Author Ed Duncan has created a cold-blooded killer with a warm heart. That is, warm and loving for his lady. Duncan’s characters are extremely well-drawn. The killer knows what his lady does for a living. I got the feeling he did not truly approve but accepts it. Likewise, she knows something about him that, at times, scares her. Together, they give each other room to live their separate lives, albeit, always protective of each other. That is, each would kill to protect the other. This story wraps around Rico’s life, though Jean plays a prominent role.
Duncan’s writing is lean, mean, and clean. The unexpected brutal action and intense suspense never stops. This is an edge-of-your-seat story about the life of Rico, and the first in the series of stories. If you enjoy suspense with shocking twists, filled with legalities and clandestine criminal action, read Pigeon Blood Red, and hold onto your seat.
I have also read the next story, The Last Straw. Just when I thought life for Rico could not become any more shocking, it only gets more intense and frightful. You know I am going to read the next story in the series, Rico Stays, as well. Duncan’s writing and his knowledge of the criminal mind is exceptional, not a word wasted, not a shock undeserved.
Review by Isobel Blackthorn: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Would make a terrific movie! Reviewed in Australia on July 17, 2019. Verified Purchase. What a treat it is to read a fast-paced hard-edged thriller when you know the author is in complete control and will take you to that point of release at the end, the literary climax, that vital point in any novel, but especially in a thriller. Duncan is a commanding writer who toys with his readers as all good thriller writers should. The author knows how to squeeze a story through a pin prick in a dam wall, the story unfolding in tantalizingly measured steps, the hallmark of great thriller writing.
Meet shady Rico and his side-kick Jerry, the corpulent and vile underworld figure, Frank Litvak, and a very expensive necklace. When hapless store owner and womanizing drunk, Robert, snatches the necklace off the backseat of Rico’s car, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. Then there’s Robert’s wife, Evelyn, her friend, Rachel, and her old lover, Paul. A small collection of main characters and at first it is hard to know where to place your sympathies, except for Litvak! There’s a slow build, the sense of the threads intersecting without knowing how, the added complexities along the way. A portrait of Chicago, then Duncan takes the story to Honolulu, as the necklace itself takes up stage centre.
Tightly plotted and cleverly told, Pigeon Blood Red has a gritty noir feel and the prose is crisp and clean and laced with a sharp wit. The characters are well-crafted and believable. The reader is given a bird’s eye view, adding to the tension. The twists continue right to the end, which does not disappoint. Shining through Pigeon Blood Red is the narrative voice, a voice I can hear, a voice that resonates in tune with the story. To being with, I could see Pigeon Blood Red would make a great movie and about three quarters in, all the way to the last page I was still thinking that. Highly recommended.
Review by Peter Ffrench: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Hero confusion. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2023. Verified Purchase. Another freebie from Bookbub and they don’t disappoint. I’m not sure who is the hero in this story, Rico or Paul but it seems like they hold the position between them although Rico has the larger part. He is Litvak’s enforcer but is portrayed as a killer with principles, the people he goes after have to deserve what they are getting but it is only because they have crossed Litvak who has no principles whatsoever and wants his bidding done unquestioned. This is where the conflict comes in and the ending is good and satisfying despite people dying and Paul and Evelyn survive to continue the story.
Paperback: 212 Pages
Print Publisher: Independently Published (January 16, 2018)
E-Book Publisher: Creativia; 2nd Edition (August 23, 2016)
Christopher Hassett (Editor)
Karen S. Davis (Editor)
Serial Killer Thrillers (Hard-Boiled Mystery)
Thrillers (Organized Crime)
The Last Straw by Ed Duncan.
Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2.
When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss.
A lawyer and an enforcer forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own. Soon after, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them and becomes entangled in the murder plot.
As the long-simmering feud between Rico – the white enforcer – and the hit-man John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.
5 Stars, Red City Review: “With danger looming in every chapter, The Last Straw is an action-packed and nerve-racking read. Duncan skillfully draws the reader into a complex web of characters… A few key twists within the storyline keep the reader intrigued in this fast-paced thriller…The Last Straw is an outstanding crime thriller…
Review by Crime Thriller Hound: “This Chicago set thriller is a pacy read, written with an edge and style… For me, this is even better than the first in the Pigeon-Blood Red series and it does work well as a stand-alone… Ed Duncan’s series will sweep up fans as it goes along.”
Review by The US Review: “Contract killers seem like such affable chaps. Sure, there are the homicidal psychopaths that bring down the profession, but among them, if fiction is any indication, walk a community of upstanding, morally sturdy gentlemen who may commit murder for hire but who uphold ethical standards and airtight loyalties that make them handy guys to know in a pinch. Rico is this kind of guy. Sure, he kills for cash, but he has lines he won’t cross. When asked to take out the teenage witness to a crime, the ride with Rico begins. He declines the job, his rival volunteers, and into the fray explodes an onslaught of alliances, vendettas, collateral damage, and no small amount of spilled blood. In the margins, race, and gender hover thoughtfully, suggesting they matter yet not stealing the show away from Rico and the action. Why is it so much fun to hang with crooks like Rico? As his prostitute girlfriend learns in the opening scenes when he avenges her from a violent john, characters like Rico live in their own separate universes where they define and mete justice. They defend those they love and accommodate the extremes their situations require. They can handle themselves in a physical showdown, they shoot to kill, and they walk away from fights victorious. Knowing that and living vicariously through either Rico or the loved one Rico is protecting is an entertaining fantasy. That temporary taste of aggressive amorality is heady stuff, and the body count is conveniently forgotten with the turn of each page. Like so many crime thrillers, Rico is a fun, fast pop through an imaginary world of tough guys, lamenting ladies, and a world-weary anti-hero. He may be a killer, but he’s one of the good ones.”
Midwest Book Review: “Realistic characters, suspenseful action, twists and turns that prove satisfyingly unpredictable, and an attention to creating full-faceted characters (whether they be women or men, victims or investigators, or hitmen) lends to an absorbing read highly recommended for those who like their thrillers complex and their characters fully developed.”
Review by Reader Editor: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. A Hit Man with a Huge Heart. Reviewed in the United States on June 22, 2020. Verified Purchase. The life and times befitting a hit man continue in this second story in this thriller mystery of criminal life. I felt both empathy and disgust for Rico and the way he has chosen to carry out his life. Disgust for his work and his reasoning for staying in such an occupation. Empathy for this killer who may not realize how deeply he loves and cares for Jean. Duncan has portrayed these characters magnificently, delving into human emotion and attributing deep feelings to each. In the first story, Pigeon Blood Red, Rico will allow no harm to Jean, the one person he can trust, and there are no others in his line of work. Yet, he will be severely tested again in The Last Straw. Rico is cunning and brutal, but with Jean, he is patient and sympathetic.
Duncan has created characters we both love and hate. In the case of Rico, I experience both of those emotions. Duncan shows us, through his impeccable writing skills, that he has a great understanding of human nature and a character’s mind set, no matter the situation, no matter the characters’ parts in the story.
Ed Duncan’s writing is concise and to the point, allowing shocking twists upon twists to unfold and take us by surprise. This is great writing, great storytelling, as if writing about actual occurrences. That is the mark of a good writer. I’ll be reading Rico Stays, which I understand is the 3rd exciting story in the series. If you like fast moving mysteries that keep you glued, read this author.
Review by Berk Rourke: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Keep Reading. Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2019. Verified Purchase. It takes a lot of time and effort to write a book. Sometimes when a book is finished you are not done with the characters or the connections between them. In this story Rico, a hired gunman, thug, renews contact with Paul Elliott, a lawyer who saved Rico’s life. I won’t tell you more about the connection or the story. Read it for yourself, for me to give you details would spoil your read. The characters are real in the sense the author fleshes them out. The story line is a bit obscure but the characters hold it together. Because of what I perceived as the weakness of the story this is a tenuous five-star rating. Even with a difficult story the read was fast and enjoyable because of the characters. Every author has a story where his characters rescue the tale from whatever it may lack. This is one of those, to this reviewer.
Review by Antwan Floyd Sr.: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. A Fantastic Follow Up! Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2018. Verified Purchase. The Last Straw the second book in the Pigeon Blood Series was a nice follow up to the first I liked the way that Duncan was able to intertwine the lives of Rico and Paul and Evelyn again I must admit that coincidental or not that it is very unlikely that these people would ever cross paths again but I suspended belief for the sake of the story and I was glad that I had but keeping it real going into the third story whenever it is released I hope Duncan gets creative with how they all cross paths again. Great read though, highly recommended.
Review by Michele Panton: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. The Last Straw. Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2018. Verified Purchase. This book was very intriguing and captivating. It held my interest to the point I didn’t want to put it down but continue reading so I could find out what was going to happen next. It was a great sequel to Pigeon-Blood Red. I hope the author will make a trilogy out of the series.
Review by James Amps: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Great crime book. The second in his Trilogy. Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2020. Verified Purchase. Part of the Trilogy crime series from Ed Duncan. Great read and great Trilogy. You have to read his crime series.
Review by CQ: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Five Stars. Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2018. Verified Purchase. Liked the continuity from the first sequel Pigeon Blood Red… kept me reading to the end!
Paperback: 227 Pages
Print Publisher: Independently Published (December 2, 2017)
E-Book Publisher: Creativia; 2nd Edition (November 25, 2017)
Donna Rich (Editor)
Serial Killer Thrillers (Hard-Boiled Mystery)
Thrillers (Organized Crime)
Rico Stays by Ed Duncan.
Pigeon-Blood Red Book 3.
After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.
When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished and three goons lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.
Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once.
Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history – or Paul’s fascination with him. Vengeful killers would soon be coming for him.
The only question was whether he would be ready to face them.
Reader Editor-5.0 out of 5 Stars: Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer. Rico Stays, is the third story in Ed Duncan’s Pigeon Blood Red series, although it is also a stand-alone story as well. The plot continues with the life of Rico, a hitman who is cold-blooded but astute and smart. He’s as exact as you can imagine of a killer at the top of his game. To protect Jean, his girlfriend and confidant, Rico has killed again as in the previous stories. Then there is always another crime boss ready to come onto the scene. Gus Chakiras is next. He seems to sympathize somewhat with Rico’s plight.
Rico is being pursued by Larry Cosgrove, a young psychotic wanna-be dirt bag who just happens to be Gus’s nephew. Rico prevented Larry from harming a teen who colliding with him accidentally in a parking lot. So, can the tired, retiring crime boss Gus convince Larry to let go of the excitement of retaliation and grow a set? Gus knows his nephew is out to kill Rico or Jean. But who does he kill instead?
Paul Elliott, who appears in the previous stories, is a razor-sharp attorney who harbors an attraction to Rico’s lifestyle. He’s even bought a blue shoulder holster like Rico uses. Paul has only recently started carrying. Our author slowly reveals the inner workings of Paul’s mind and this takes much talent to accomplish, but we see Paul changing. Ultimately, Paul helps Rico stay hidden while he heals from the near-death shooting in the parking lot. Paul can’t do enough for Rico, who previously saved his life at least twice. If Rico, a loner, could trust anyone to cover him, it would be Paul. Paul would have an opportunity to prove himself. But would he jeopardize his accomplished law career to protect a hitman? There are plenty of tight situations, especially as a crazed Larry brings his incredible schemes to life.
This story continues the series with nail-biting action without let up. If you like fast-paced thrillers, read Duncan’s books. They leave me breathless.
James Amps-5.0 out of 5 Stars: One of the best crime books I have read. Great job on pulling these characters together. Anyone that wants to be in suspense and not put this book down needs to read this One of the best crime books on the market. Great read. Could not put it down once I started. Great job.
Eva Duncan-5.0 out of 5 Stars: Satisfied Customer.
JennlyT-5.0 out of 5 Stars: A debt repaid; a friendship made. Full disclosure, I was provided with a copy of this book by the author or their representative, however, I have voluntarily chosen to write a review. All opinions are my own.
Chicago enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders just wants to listen to the ball game in peace, but when he gets called to drive his girlfriend and her geriatric friend home from the supermarket his peaceful afternoon turns into a shootout in the parking lot and a stay at the hospital. With a bum leg and the brother of one of his victims hot on his trail with revenge on his mind, Rico finds himself in an all too familiar situation. But he is not one to hide from his enemies, and it is only due to Jean’s quick thinking that Rico agrees to lay low for a few days at a cabin of a “mutual friend”. Rico’s convalescence, however, is short-lived when the bad guys start to play dirty. Against his better judgment, Rico forms an alliance with an unlikely partner to put an end to their games. But will this uncanny pairing be the start of a beautiful friendship or the beginning of the end for more than just Rico and Jean?
Rico Stays is the final book in the Pigeon Blood Red trilogy by author Ed Duncan. Set sometime after the close of The Last Straw, Rico, Jean, Paul, and Evelyn have returned to what passes for their normal everyday lives. Little do they know that their paths will cross one more time but with the tables turned in an incredibly unique way. As Rico and Jean try to stay below the radar and not become the target of a grieving brother, Paul steps up to the plate as an unlikely benefactor. Hiding Rico and Jean at his cabin in the woods is brilliant, but not without consequences as Paul finds himself defending his actions to more than just a flabbergasted Evelyn. In this final installment, the action is fast-paced, the tension is high and the ending, for me at least, was oh so satisfying.
After initially not being a fan of Pigeon Blood Red, I stuck with the series and I was rewarded with witnessing the beginnings of what I hope in Rico’s world will be a lifelong friendship between the four main characters who started not just as “enemies” but as a target, then evolved into a debt to be repaid and an eventual partnership. This concept itself is so foreign that it is endearing. Watching Jean and Evelyn warm up to each other was heartwarming and proves that no matter what your race, profession, upbringing, or social status that friendship can be achieved if an effort is made. While this marks the end of the trilogy, I cannot help but long for a one-off short here and there to check in with Rico and the gang to see how they’re doing. I cannot help but be curious to see how their budding friendship is cultivated and developed. Also, I would be lying if I did not say that I am curious to see if the influences on the other couples are for the better, the worse, or maybe a little of both. Honestly, I am hoping for a little bit of both!
Review by Kindle Customer: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. It could be titled The Killer and the Counselor. Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2023. Verified Purchase. Rico is a hired killer and Paul is a respected counselor. Together the eliminate a few Chicago mobsters. Quick but fun read.
Review by Mark Scott Piper: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. A Thrill Ride That Will Make You Think. Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2022. Verified Purchase. Rico Stays is the third novel in Ed Duncan’s Pigeon-Blood Red series. I haven’t read the previous novels, but Rico Stays stands on its own just fine. It’s a well-written, character-driven, thriller that will keep you turning pages to the end.
The characters are well developed and relatable. That’s a bit surprising, since the main character, Richard “Rico” Sanders, is a hitman and a good one, but he also is human. He loves, he worries, he has a sense of morality, and he only kills those who he deems deserve it. I was rooting for him all the way. Paul Elliot is a big-time lawyer, who owes his life to Rico from previous encounters, and he seems to aspire to emulate Rico. He’s a good guy, who’s loyal to both Rico and his girlfriend, Evelyn Rogers, a math professor. Evelyn and Jean Webber, Rico’s love interest, are strong females and are people you’d want to meet. Cleveland Russell is almost a tragic character. Not all the characters are nice people, though. Larry Cosgrove is evil to the core and a hothead as well.
Rico’s world is not one I have any real-life experience with, but in Duncan’s deft hand the story pulled me in from the beginning and held me all the way to the end. Duncan provides enough detail in the various scenes to allow his readers to see and feel each as if they were in the middle of the action.
The plot is action-packed and full of chills and danger. It’s a good ride and readers will likely find themselves fully immersed. It happened to me. The momentum starts to build early, and the tension never lets up until the end. Whether this third book is really the end of the series or not remains to be seen.
Rico Stays is highly recommended for fans of action, who enjoy being exposed to the criminal element, and like to root for the best of the bad guys. Based on this third book in the series, I highly recommend all three.
Paperback: 189 Pages
Print Publisher: Independently Published (May 6, 2020)
E-Book Publisher: Terminal Velocity – A Next Chapter Imprint; 2nd Edition (May 5, 2020)
Karen Crombie (Editor)
Serial Killer Thrillers (Hard-Boiled Mystery)
Thrillers (Organized Crime)
Pigeon-Blood Red Collection: The Complete Series by Ed Duncan.
All three books in Ed Duncan’s ‘Pigeon-Blood Red’ series of thrillers, now available in one volume!
Pigeon-Blood Red: For underworld enforcer Rico Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job: retrieve his boss’s ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. But after the chase goes sideways, Rico has to move from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu. There, the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory, when innocent bystanders are embroiled in a crime. As Rico pursues his targets, hunter and prey develop an unlikely respect for one another, and Rico is faced with a decision: kill the couple whose courage has won his admiration, or endanger the life of the woman he loves?
The Last Straw: After a carjacking goes bad, a teenage girl is marked for death by a crime boss. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own. After they find out that the crime boss is the father of carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them. As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up – and old scores will be settled.
Rico Stays: After Rico Sanders steps in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s nephew, all hell breaks loose. When the smoke clears, three goons lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico needs a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once. But Paul’s girlfriend hasn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history or Paul’s fascination with him. Vengeful killers would soon be coming for him. But is he ready to face them one more time?
Paperback: 628 Pages
Publisher: Independently Published (June 21, 2023)
Thrillers (Black & African American Mystery)
Thrillers (Organized Crime)
Amazon Soft-Cover Print:
Available At Your Favorite Digital Store!
About The Author: Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years.
He is the original author of a highly regarded treatise entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage published by Thomson West in 2008 which he updated annually through 2012.
Ed currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and recently completed the third installment of the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy, Rico Stays.
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