I'm giving this one a 5/5 rating. While not a perfect book, it is one of the most engaging reads of the year and contains some nice moral ambiguities...moreI'm giving this one a 5/5 rating. While not a perfect book, it is one of the most engaging reads of the year and contains some nice moral ambiguities and a realistic, flawed protagonist.
Castillo is an ex-Special Ops member who spent time in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. He's seen and done some bad shit. Even though he's still struggling with serious PTSD, he is tasked by his ex-commander to help track down a group of vicious escaped serial killer clones and their spiritual leader, the geneticist Dr. Jacobson. Along the way, Castillo picks up a nice kid named Jeffrey Jacobson (son of the renegade geneticist). Jeff is a clone, and Castillo is torn by what Jeffrey could be and what he appears to be.
I expected the book to devolve into a preachy gore-fest, but the author balances issues of pre-destination, genetics, fatherhood, domestic abuse, clandestine government, and more with a deft hand.
If there is a weakness with Cain's Blood, is that the scope of the book is a bit broad. All the characters that are introduce play important roles in the plot, but their stories can be a bit threadbare. Perhaps Girard was restricted to 320 pages this being his first major novel (Girard is well-known in genre small press circles), but Cain's Blood would have benefited from being 400 pages, giving the author and the characters room to breath.
If you like your military thrillers to be intelligent and at times, touching, then Cain's Blood will be a nice addition to your bookshelf. (less)
Then you'll enjoy INK, the debut novel by talented author Damien Walters Grintalis.
Like so many classic Leisure books of old, INK takes a simple, straightforward plot and runs full speed into gore, death, and monsters. The protagonist, on the rebound from a bad marriage, runs into a shady tattoo artist named Sailor. With a bit of liquid courage and rebellion flowing through his blood, our newly-divorced protag has Sailor ink a beautiful rendition of a powerful griffin.
Between the title of the book and the synopsis on the back, you *know* what happens next. And it ain't pretty.
Grintalis displays a deft touch building tension throughout. This strength plays to her favor in a manic and bloody climax involving the protagonist, his girlfriend, a griffin, and Sailor. The author also does some nice character building, forming realistic familial and romantic relationships.
The book occasionally suffers problems typical of first novels. Often, I found myself thinking "Hm, didn't I *just* read this observation five pages earlier?" The narrative could have used some polish, but the book moves along at such a brisk pace, it's not problematic to the story.
Until INK, I had known Damien Walters Grintalis solely as an author of short fiction (something she is gifted at writing, do search for her works if you have the time). With INK, it is evident that the author will bloom into an excellent novelist as well. I look forward to her next book.(less)