Monday, 12 December 2016

Book Review: Blood and Bullets by James R Tuck (Deacon Chalk #1)

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. . .

My Review: 
Deacon is approached by a vampire who asks him to kill a fellow hunter but when Deacon goes to warn the man, the man attacks him, believing him to be a vampire, and they are then surrounded in an ambush by a ton of vampires. Deacon wants to know who used Larson to lure him into a trap and then he plans to get some major payback. The search begins with an ancient vampire who is in hiding but soon Deacon is confronted with a vampire who can control other vampires and shifters and could well be unbeatable.

"And vampires never sparkle unless they just ate a stripper"

Deacon Chalk for me is the ultimate urban fantasy hero. He is a tough biker all in wrestler looking guy with a mean look straight from an ACDC nightmare, with slightly enhanced speed and strength given to him by an Angel he saved who then returned the favour. He has a complete belief in God and that he is doing good work in fighting against monsters with the good Father. His faith adds to his complex character but it is not overpowering in the story and he isn't preaching to everyone. I liked that. He fights monsters because his beloved wife and kids were murdered in a black magick ritual five years ago, and he still suffers daily from the pain and trauma of not being able to save them. I so much liked how vulnerable he is to that pain, and that he kills monsters until they kill him to reunite him with his family someday, as suicide would be wrong. He is also kind and caring to his friends and the girls in the club but don't cross him...

Deacon owns a 'minimum of clothes' dance club as opposed to an actual strip club, called Polecats. We don't see the club during working hours and there is no stripping there, just dancing in skimpy clothes due to state law. The action we see at the club is where the monster fighters gather. The income from the club allows him to finance his monster fighting war as silver bullets do not come cheap. Kat who runs the club and provides all of his internet information and research was rescued from vampires by Deacon and he views her as a sister. Their bartender is the brilliant Father Mulcahy, Catholic Priest, exorcist, guardian of holy relics and monster fighter. He is a grizzled, wisecracking father figure to Deacon and I really liked him. We also meet a few of the girls like Ronnie who work in the bar and are fully aware of what Deacon does. I like that he gives them a safe place to work and the weapons they need to defend themselves from whatever Deacon is hunting.

The newer people that Deacon has to work with are Larson and Tiffany. Larson is a dumb wannabe vampire hunter with no idea what he is getting into. He continually locks horns with Deacon and is pretty much a whining ass in my book. I don't greatly like him and he is an idiot for trying to tell Deacon how he should be doing his job! Tiff is pretty interesting. She looks and sounds like a little girl lost but is much stronger than she sounds, and forms an instant connection with Deacon. We then meet a couple of really interesting characters-Charlotte the were spider, who is the creepiest shifter you could ever imagine *shudder* and Longinus, the accidental creator of vampires with a tortured past. Both are really great additions to the plot. We also meet a were-gorilla called George!

There is no romance in this book but there are emotional bonds between Deacon and Tiff which make them close friends quickly and hint that something could develop later. THIS is the way that potential romances should be handled instead of instaluv soulmate nonsense which has ruined many decent books for me in the past. I like the idea of a man tortured by the loss of his wife finding a connection to someone like Tiff, so I guess I'm rooting for them as a future couple! The characters themselves are well developed and you very much care about them when they go into battle. Deacon may be a bit enhanced but he is not superman and he takes realistic beatings from the monsters he has to fight. It adds realism to the fights which are brutal and he never has any kind of easy wins, which is a much better plot to read than easy victories every time.

I also liked the pop culture references to other vampire hunters as if they are people he knows or has worked with. Anita in St Louis is obviously Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake, Cat and Bones are from the books by Jeaniene Frost, Sam and Dean are the Supernatural boys and the two sets of vampire hunters in LA and a nearby town sound like Angel and Buffy. I'm not too sure about who the Blue Woman is though. I'm thinking the reference to the 'old guy and the black guy' might be Blade? It's also nice to have an MC who is not interested in rap and house music as I hate both! I might actually be interested in listening to a few of his song choices!

This book is full of vampire, shifters, tough battles, complex characters, tension, realism and great plot. In short it has everything I want in an urban fantasy adventure and it more than lived up to the promise of That Thing at the Zoo, the prequel story that I read which put me onto the series. Check it out if you haven't already read it. I recommend this book to fans of dark and gritty urban fantasy, those who like paranormal stories with strong plot and great characters.
Read December 2016 
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg


  1. Wow, this series is getting such high praise for you that I really must put it on my wishlist. They do sound like good reads and I'm glad you're enjoying them all!

    1. My only complaint is waiting ages for the next one!

  2. So this is the character you mentioned to me! From this cover, I really didn't think I'd want to read it, but you've made it sound really interesting. Is it weird that I find it intriguing he has such strong faith? Maybe I'm just stereotyping or maybe I've just read too much UF in which the characters aren't religious. But also a priest bartender? That's unique lol. And how fun that it references other characters as though they're just part of the world! The relationships he has sound nice too. I will have to consider this and will put it on my maybe TBR!

    1. Father Mulcahy is brilliant-priest, exorcist, keeper of holy relics, barman and monster hunter! I found it good for a change to have a big tough hero who loved his family and has Catholic faith to help fight the monsters. If you can grab the prequel 'That thing at the zoo' free, it introduces you to what he does but you can read book one without it.