Whew! Lemme tell ya, if you’re in the mood for some down and dirty noir action with your supernatural fun, City of the Lost is where it’s at! Joe Sunday is your all around tough-as-nails L. A. enforcer who knocks heads and makes a pretty good living at it. All of this comes to a rather abrupt hault when his main employer hires him to knock off someone that is way off the normal meter. When he witnesses his best friend and co-worker kill himself (in a rather spectacular way), he knows things are a bit…off kilter. Sure enough, his newest mark is out for blood, and takes Joe out. But wait, Joe’s not dead. Now, Joe is a zombie; not the rambling, rotting type, but if he doesn’t do certain, er, things, the rotting definitely will commence, unless he gets his hands on a stone that may hold the key to immortality.
Told in Joe’s wry voice, City of the Lost grabs you hard on page one and keeps you rapt until the last page. Backed by a supporting cast including a young bruja that counts a bar tending demon as a friend, and a cop with is own agenda, Joe must fine the stone and figure out how to fix his little problem, before it fixes him. On his tail is an ancient man that’s been chasing the stone’s secret for hundreds of years, a beautiful woman that he may or may not be able to trust, a Nazi doctor that wants the stone for his own, and his henchmen, a skull cracker that has a sharp-toothed midget (we’re not talking human here) on a leash. Stephen Blackmoore writes like an old pro, and doesn’t flinch from some of the more violent characteristics of his anti-hero. He’s really, really good at writing gray characters, and yet manages to infuse his creations with humanity, even if they aren’t themselves human, which is a neat trick. City of the Lost is fast paced, funny, scary, at times, charming, and I couldn’t put it down. If you love the novels of Richard Kadray (Sandman Slim), Hank Schwaeble (Jake Hatcher series), and Steve Niles’ Cal McDonald series, then you’ll LOVE City of the Lost. What a way to start out the new year! This is a 2012 debut you won’t want to miss!(less)
Fun and Games opens with a bang,like a shotgun blast,and never lets up! Lane Madden,beautiful,rising young actress,is out for a ride on Decker Canyon Road when she sees a pair of headlights behind her. Very close behind her. She begins to suspect she’s being followed and after nearly having an accident,her suspicions turn out to be true,when the “good Samaritan” that stops to help her turns out to be not so good at all.
Charlie Hardie has just arrived in the Hollywood Hills for his next house sitting gig and is just settling in when he discovers Lane Madden hiding in the house,exhausted,scared,and ready for a fight. She’s telling a story about someone trying to kill her that Charlie has more than a little trouble believing,but Lane’s story is true,and the Accident People are coming…
Fun and Games was,well,a hell of a lot of fun! When the action starts,it doesn’t let up,and the twists and turns kept me on my toes the whole way through. Charlie is a man running from his past,and he’s determined to protect Lane from a group that seems to have endless resources at their disposal,and orders from the highest echelons of the Hollywood elite,and beyond. There are a few scenes with the killers in the house that had me grinning hugely,because Charlie ends up getting the better of these people,largely due to good luck,and seeing them get caught off guard by this “house sitter” who they wildly underestimated,was wonderfully entertaining. Charlie’s no ordinary house sitter,and he has some weapons at his disposal that this group doesn’t count on,as well as utter determination to protect Lane at all costs. Lane also has a secret,and may know more about this group,and why they’re after her,then she’s letting on. At first I thought Lane would be a bubbleheaded actress with nothing much to offer the fight,but boy was I wrong. She and Charlie make a pretty damn good team,and you’ll certainly find yourself rooting for them,and for her,in spite of the lingering suspicion that Lane may not be as innocent as she seems. The Accident People are absolutely terrifying,and just the thought of a group like this existing gives me the chills. Fun and Games is a noir thriller that’s absolutely not to be missed,and you’ll want to keep an eye out for Hell and Gone,the next Charlie Hardie thriller,due in October!(less)
Deacon Chalk is a man with a mission. After he’s cornered by a young vamp asking for his protection outside his place of business, he knows something’s not right. He kills vamps. He certainly doesn’t protect them, and when he’s jumped by a group of vamps bent on draining him dry, along with a (very) amateur vampire hunter, he’s sure something big is going down. His search for the culprit leads him to a very powerful vamp bent on dominating Deacon to her will, but that’s not gonna happen, and Deacon’s going to make sure of it.
With a genre that’s dominated by female writers, I’m always excited to see an urban fantasy title come out written by a dude. Not to mention that it’s nice to see a fresh voice in the genre, period. Deacon Chalk is a man’s man. He loves his guns, packs a lot of heat, and knocks heads with the best of them. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a heart, because he does, and the author makes that point more than a few times. I mean, the man’s family was brutally taken by monsters, and it’s what drives him to kill them. There’s also no black and white with vamps in Blood and Bullets. They’re evil, period, and they certainly don’t sparkle. Deacon will have some help from unlikely folks, namely a priest that kicks some pretty serious ass, a were-spider, and an immortal with quite a rich history. Blood and Bullets has some awkward bits, but I attribute that firmly to first-book growing pains¸ and all in all it was a fun, fast-paced¸ rocket powered read. I couldn’t help but like Deacon and I’m anxious to see what the author does with the supporting cast in future books. Great action scenes round out a promising start to what looks to be a fun series!(less)
Jake Hatcher really can't seem to catch a break. One of my favorite new heroes returns in Diabolical, the second in a series after Damnable. We move from New York City to L.A., where Jake is trying to lay low while working in a bar part time. Unfortunately, after receiving a note from a mysterious stranger, he's again drawn in to a massively evil plan designed to open a portal to Hell. There were quite a few twists and turns in this one, and the Carnates, the seductive beings from Damnable, play a major role in this story again as well. Jake, former special ops, is still the conflicted man that he was in Damnable, but this time, when it's possible that his baby nephew has been kidnapped to be used as a sacrifice, he's desperate to find out the truth before it's too late. Nobody is what they seem and Jake is constantly being bombarded by all sides. Not knowing who to trust begins to take its toll as Jake struggles to save his nephew and prevent this evil plan from coming to fruition. Diabolical constantly kept me on my toes, and I love hanging out with Jake, whose smart mouth is still in fine form. If it's action you're looking for, Diabolical is the place to be. The fight scenes are pretty awesome and extremely well choreographed. I found myself being able to picture them quite easily, because Mr. Schwaeble is just that good in his descriptions. He’s also very good at getting into the twisted psyches of his villians, and there are two really icky new bad guys in here that will make you squirm. The lovely and treacherous Carnates are back, and there's a twist that you won't see coming (at least I didn't). I admit it had my jaw hanging open in surprise. Jake Hatcher is a tough-as-nails hero with heart, in one of the best new thriller series in quite a while! I'll follow Jake anywhere! (less)