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I Belong

Review: Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck

Title: Blood and Bullets

Author: James R. Tucker

Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy

Series: Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty-Hunter (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 7, 2012

Format: Paperback, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0758271476 (Kensington Books)

ISBN-13:  978-0758271471 (Kensington Books)

Reviewed by: Sheila


Since hunting down the monster who took the lives of his wife and children five years ago, occult bounty-hunter Deacon Chalk has lived by only one rule.

He does not work for the monsters. He kills them.

So why would a vampire try to hire him as protection against another monster hunter? After enforcing his only rule Deacon goes to meet the target, a vampire slayer named Nyteblade. Professional courtesy demands he tell this Nyteblade the vampires are hiring people to kill him. Deacon finds the vampire slayer waiting in an alley.

Waiting to stake him.

He discovers that Nyteblade is a bumbling, fumbling, wanna-be instead of a badass vampire hunter. Someone who needs saving from monsters instead of the other way around. This is proven when a horde of vampires descend and he has to escape while trying to keep Nyteblade alive.

Someone has set Deacon up. Someone wants him dead.

Someone should have sent more vampires.

Bound and determined, Deacon will find out who tried to kill him no matter how many bloodsuckers, were-spiders, cursed immortals, undead strippers, or insanely powerful hell-bitches he has to wade through.

It’s going to be a long night.

Quick & Dirty: A badass man intent on taking as many of the monsters down before they get him first.  Full of fighting and helpful monster killing hints; like Burn Notice for the supernatural community.

Opening SentenceSome nights are destined to go to hell.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I will admit that the title of this book, Blood and Bullets, turned me off from reading it at first.  But first impressions can be deceiving.  Like the book itself, the true nature of the hero lies past all the coverings and labels.  Deacon Chalk is a badass monster hunter and has a tougher-than-nails look about him.  But this same man loved his family so deeply that the loss of them became the driving force of all he is today.  Even though he kills the monsters without remorse, he does whatever he can to help those that have been harmed by them.  This is why you should never judge a book by its cover, both figuratively and literally.

Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter, is a simple man with simple pleasures; like killing monsters.  When he is given an assignment by a vampire to hunt a fierce man known as Nyteblade, he takes it even though he is a little confused.  And when Nyteblade foolishly attacks and tries to stake Deacon in the heart as if he were a vampire, the confusion goes up a notch.  Turns out that Nyteblade is just a kid named Larson who has no idea how to identify and hunt monsters, let alone kill them.   Who in their right mind could possibly believe this guy to be a threat to a man like Deacon?  And what’s with the whole setup in the first place?  Who has he pissed off recently that warrants using Larson to lure Deacon in to a place where lots of vampires can attack them both at once?  Multiple vampires are generally hard to control by a singular master, so who has the kind of power to make it happen?  And more importantly, how can Deacon kill it?

Deacon tells this story while giving the readers helpful hints on monster hunting and extermination.  It’s like the monsters of Supernatural meets the cool explanations of Burn Notice.  He also has a way with words.  He doesn’t bother to sugarcoat anything for anyone.  And if his large frame, tattoos, and sour expression don’t scare you off, his big ass gun will.  But Deacon is a man of his word and has a loyal following that helps him get the job done.

Deacon’s team is also something.  Kat is a computer wizard and manager of his strip club, Polecats.  He has a chain-smoking priest that bartends for him.  They all work together to take out all the evil bastards that they can find.  Larson offers to help, but realizes that this is not the life for him.  But Larson is not free to leave because his family is being held captive and Deacon and his team are the only ones that can save them.

While trying to take out the vampire that put the hit out on him, Deacon helps out a few interesting people.  Longinus, the welder of the Spear of Destiny that killed Jesus Christ on the cross and cursed with immortality, is being held captive by Appollonia, the evil vampire intent on making Deacon her own.  Longinus also happens to be the “father” of the vampires.  He has long tried to atone for his mistakes by trying to kill all the vampires off.  While doing so, he is captured by Appollonia, and the Spear enhances her powers to the point of making her virtually invincible.  Charlotte is a were-spider that is forced to do Appollonia’s bidding.  But when she breaks free, she puts everything on the line to help Deacon and his team take down her old master.  These folks don’t stick around at the end of the book, but I do hope to see them involved again in the future.

Appollonia is a very old vampire.  She has in her possession the Spear of Destiny and it gives her powers she would never have on her own.  She can control hundreds of vampires at once.  Bullets do not harm her.  So, how can someone possibly beat her?  Well, like all good villains, she is vain and prideful.  But can Deacon use this against her to his advantage?  Can those that she has subjugated give him the key to her demise?  Or will she prove stronger than all of them?

There is also a potential love interest in Deacon’s future; the lovely Tiff.  Deacon did her first tattoo years ago, before the death of his family.  She remembers the events that surrounded his family’s murders and expresses her sympathy by giving him a hug.  She is kind and sweet yet not put off by Deacon’s strong exterior and harsh attitude.  She is also strong-willed and willing to do whatever it takes to help out, even though she has no personal stake in the matter.  She is just that nice of a person.  She makes her interest in Deacon known with one hell of a kiss, but doesn’t pressure for more.  I don’t think that she is good for Deacon, whether as just a friend or as more.

I am glad that I took the time to read this book.  It is full of layers and depth that make me want more.  The characters are all more than they appear, just like real people.  Take the time to get to know Deacon Chalk for he is a good man to know.  Especially if you need someone to shield you against things that go bump in the night.

Notable Scene:

Why would a vampire even think that I would work for them?  I’m not a vampire hunter.  I don’t seek them out, but I’ve killed every one of the evil bastards I’ve run into.  Most people have a romantic view of vampires.  They picture them as the eternal lover full of longing and dark passion.  Thank you very much Hollywood, but that is not the way it is in real life.

And vampires never sparkle unless they just ate a stripper.

The Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty-Hunter Series:

0.5 That Thing at the Zoo

1. Blood and Bullets

2. Blood and Silver

FTC Advisory: Kensington Books provided me with a copy of Blood and Bullets.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.


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