Now you’re wondering who the hell Deacon Chalk might be. Notice I didn’t say heck. Deacon Chalk would never be that mealy-mouthed.
Deacon Chalk is the monster-hunting main character of Blood and Bullets, the first novel by James R. Tuck in the urban fantasy series that is, of course, named after its protagonist. Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter, that’s him.
There’s also a prequel novella, That Thing at the Zoo, which serves as a fantastic (fantastic in multiple senses of the term) introduction to the series and the characters.
Deacon hunts vampires, and pretty much everything else that goes bump in the night. Vamps murdered his family, and his mission in life is to stop the evil basty-assed-nastards from murdering as many other families as he possibly can.
He runs his monster-bounty-hunting business from the back of an expressway-exit strip-club. And every single one of the strippers is one of his assistants. Because they’ve all been victimized by the vamps at some point, and this is their way of getting some of their own back.
His sidekick is a Catholic priest, who also provides all the Holy Water Deacon needs for putting down the vamps. And is very handy with a rifle.
In Blood and Bullets, a lot of both fly around. Because an ancient vampire (there are ancient vampires and convoluted vampire politics in some of the best urban fantasy series) has set up Deacon, another vampire hunter, and one of her own vampires who got away from her(!) in a very nasty little war.
Of course she wants them to wipe each other out and save her the trouble. Or does she have a much deeper game? She’s a vampire after all. They always seem to be playing on twenty levels at once, all of them foul and blood-soaked.
This time, there’s more at stake than Deacon ever imagined. Even though he is literally on the side of the Angels.
Escape Rating A: Blood and Bullets is delicious in that “OMG please tell me there are more” kind of way. There’s a manic “Vampire Chainsaw Massacre” element that is just so much fun, but wouldn’t work in another genre. The vampires are unrelievedly evil, and you so want Deacon to plow them down without remorse, which he does.
I’ve never read another book that gets into the mechanics of vampire-slaughter in quite this much detail, and made it fun, but Blood and Bullets does it. The snark-fest aspects help tremendously!
Urban fantasy reads differently with a male protagonist, back to my comparison to Harry Dresden. Harry doesn’t finesse things, he sets them on fire. Deacon doesn’t either, he mows them down. They are also both big men who cast very long shadows, not just physically but also symbolically.
Start reading about Deacon Chalk with That Thing at the Zoo. It’s ebook only and definitely worth the 99 cents. Deacon’s adventures continue this summer in another ebook novella, Spider’s Lullaby, and later with Blood and Silver in August. I’m glad it’s not a long wait. I want to see what happens next!