BLOOD AND BULLETS (Deacon Chalk #1)
by James R. Tuck
RELEASE DATE: February 2012
FORMAT: ARC, 352 pages
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities help him take out any kind of supernatural threat. But now an immortal evil has this bad-ass bounty hunter dead in its sights… Ever since a monster murdered his family, Deacon Chalk hunts any creature that preys on the innocent. So when a pretty vampire girl “hires” him to eliminate a fellow slayer, Deacon goes to warn him–and barely escapes a vampire ambush. Now he’s got a way – inexperienced newbie hunter to protect and everything from bloodsuckers to cursed immortals on his trail. There’s also a malevolent force controlling the living and the undead, hellbent on turning Deacon’s greatest loss into the one weapon that could destroy him… (Goodreads)
I was exceedingly excited about reading BLOOD AND BULLETS after reading That Thing At The Zoo in January. Deacon Chalk is the kind of hero that urban fantasy was invented for. Tough, scarred and on a blaze of vengeance following the murder of his wife and children by an evil monster.
Tuck continues to have the cool turn of phrase I enjoyed so much in ‘That Thing At The Zoo’ and the beginning got off to a really good start:
Some nights are destined to go to hell. Not literally, at least not usually. From the start of them, you know they are going to turn on you like a rabid dog. I was having one of those nights.
Action, vampires and plenty of blood and bullets just as the title promised. Deacon epitomises the word Bad-Ass and his team of sidekicks are equally tough and interesting. From the dangerous priest, to the tough, damaged strip club manager. I also like the fact that Deacon has a softer side, there are a couple of scenes where we see him cry and it only adds to his characterisation, rather than detract from his tough guy image. This book is not for the squeamish, it’s immensely violent and gory. I didn’t mind it, but it may not appeal to some.
Tuck is obviously a lover and a fan of the urban fantasy genre and this shines through in his writing, in fact some of the more famous ones even get their own mention:
There are few proclaimed vampire slayers and they range all kinds. Anita out in St. Louis, [...] Cat and Bones run their crew killing vampires and do a fine job of it. [...] The black guy and old man combo [...] Sam and Dean …
You get the idea. This made me smile and endeared Tuck to me as a writer. Although I’m not sure I have quite forgiven him for the were-spiders *shudder* , but it does add originality to the story. I don’t think I’ve come across were-spiders before.
While there are many aspects of this novel that are great, there is one major thing that let it down. And that is the middle. The plot just seemed to loose its way for a time. It lacked deeper intrigue and twists that other writers in this genre deliver so well. I felt a little like the story went oh here’s a baddy let’s kill it and, oh here’s an even badder baddy let’s kill it too. But wait, we might need some bigger guns.
And oh yes, the guns. Tuck is seriously into his guns. Usually I don’t mind this, I like knowing what weapons my heroes are carrying on them. This is a common facet of urban fantasy heroes, but it got a little bit tedious in the end. Page long paragraphs on guns, just when the plot really needed to move on.
But… And it’s a big but. Then came the ending. Just when I was getting somewhat disillusioned with the story and a little frustrated because I wanted this book to be so good, Tuck completely pulls it of the bag. The ending is … awesome!
Appollonia is the ultimate evil vampire and Deacon the perfect adversary. The fact that he doesn’t really care if he lives or dies adds to the darkness of the plot’s climax.
But I have a secret. I don’t give a damn if I die. It’s fine with me. That means I get to go be with my family. If today was the day I cashed in my ticket, then so be it.
We have the ultimate showdown, a very interesting religious twist, and a complete adrenalin churning, page-turning action fest. Suddenly I was hooked back in and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen. It completely redeemed the novel.
While it lost its way a little, BLOOD AND BULLETS has serious potential as a new urban fantasy series. I loved Deacon and eagerly anticipate his journey both as vampire hunter, but also as an individual recovering from a tragic loss. I’m looking forward to the release of Blood and Silver.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
0.5 That Thing At The Zoo
1. Blood and Bullets
2. Blood and Silver
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