Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 343 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release date: March 30, 2010
Series: Bloodhound Files #2
Source: Personal shelf
FBI profiler Jace Valchek was pulled into this parallel realm to hunt for Aristotle Stoker, a human serial killer who preys on vampires and werewolves. Now she works for the National Security Agency of the Unnatural States of America—and her boss is a vampire.
At a bizarre crime scene, Jace finds a bloodsucker murdered by magic, fried to the bone and dressed in the costume of the comic book hero the Flash—a character who isn’t supposed to exist here. Comic books have been outlawed for their powers, including crossover spells like the one that transported Jace to this world. Soon, she’s following a trail of dead bodies into the sinister underworld of black-market comics—where a deranged madman gives new meaning to the term “super-villain”…
As you may have guessed from my Daring You To Read... post a little while ago, I’m a big fan of D. D. Barant’s Bloodhound Files. Having suggested the first book in the series, I thought it might be a good time to post about the second book, Death Blows, since I’m re-reading the series in anticipation of the fifth book, Back from the Undead, which is being released at the end of March. (I have previously been about Dying Bites, despite my appreciation of the rest of the series.)
First up, how gorgeous is this cover? The model really captures my idea of what Jace looks like and I love the moody colours. I don’t really like the font that they’ve used for the word blows on the cover but it’s a small quibble, as is the fact that I doubt Jace owns a hot pink shirt...but I love the subtle wolf image that the artist snuck in.
While I didn’t think it possible, I enjoyed Death Blows more than Dying Bites, particularly the second time around. The stuff I loved about Jace’s debut -- the humour, the innovative world building, the strong characters -- are back in full force in Death Blows, and D. D. Barant has also added comic books. (Or Kamic books, as they’re called in Jace’s new home.) I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and superheroes and I love how the author tied in comic characters and storylines from our reality with the world of the Bloodhound Files. There are references to a lot of big comics, with a distinct preference for DC characters, and I loved seeing how D. D. tied them in with the storyline he created for Death Blows.
I also really liked how much we learn about some of the secondary characters in the book. Dying Bites was all about Jace and her acclimation to her new reality (and her quest to catch Stoker) and she’s definitely the central character again, but now we get a little bit more back story for some of my favourite characters in the series: Dr. Pete and Gretchen. Dr. Pete is the werewolf doctor who took care of Jace when she first got transported and they’ve remained friends. We got a little insight into Dr. Pete’s home life in Dying Bites but we really delve into his past this time around. Dr. Pete’s got some interesting layers and it adds a lot of depth and pathos to his character. My other favourite, Gretchen, is a pire who works for the NSA. She’s one of the first people Jace met and I adore her. She’s brilliant and confident and kind. Unfortunately, she spends a great deal of Death Blows in distress since the guy who’s dressed up like the Flash in the blurb above is someone important to her. Despite the circumstances, it’s so much fun seeing Gretchen outside of the office.
Sadly, at least for me, we don’t get the same exploration of Charlie, Jace’s golem partner. The way golems are treated in this society is really interesting and I love Jace’s reactions to the lems’ place in this world. Her indignation is spot on and I hope that we get to learn more about the lems and Charlie in future novels.
Here’s an example of why I want more Charlie:
“This whole thing could be an internal power struggle.”
“Maybe. Why try to win over supporters when you can kill them and take their weapons?”
“While making it look like the work of a nutjab?”
“Really? Nutjab sounds crazier.”
“How would you know? You don’t have any.”
“I have the objective perspective of an outsider.”
I have to say, when I first picked up the series, I was a little leery of reading a book with a female protagonist written by a male author. It’s my own personal bias -- if I were a writer, I don’t know how well I’d be able to write from a man’s perspective -- but D. D. Barant does a commendable job of making Jace a strong but still feminine character. And re-reading these books is reminding me of just how delightful this series is. Can’t wait to start Killing Rocks!