Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Better Off Undead

Better Off Undead (The Bloodhound Files - Book 4) by D.D. Barant

Publication Date: October 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 336pp
ISBN-13: 9780312545055

(Received for an honest review from St. Martin's Paperbacks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

D.D. Barant on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Better Off Undead


Welcome to a world in which only one percent of the population is human. Where fighting for survival doesn't always mean staying alive. And dying is just another part of everyday life... These are the Bloodhound Files. Enter at your own risk - if you dare.

Dark magic, unknown enemies, monsters of every stripe - FBI profiler Jace Valchek has seen it all. In this bizarre parallel universe, shape-shifting werewolves and blood thirsty vampires don't even warrant a raised eyebrow. That is, until Jace has to face what life might look like as one of them...

It starts off as just another run-of-the-mill assignment: to track down the rogue don of a mafia werewolf family before he upsets the delicate balance of the underworld. But Jace wasn't counting on being bitten... and soon she's fighting the growing wolf inside her with a startling antidote - vampirism. Stopping a bloody gangland war won't be easy when Jace is feeling some new, and very inhuman desires...


In an effort to add more Urban Fantasy reviews to my blog I contacted St. Martin's to request a review of copy of D.D. Barant's latest addition to the Bloodhound Files series, Better Off Undead. Urban Fantasy is a sub-genre that really appeals to me and I enjoy reading it because it is edgy and has a bit of a darker tone to it. This particular series interests me for a lot of reasons. D.D. Barant is a writer that with a TV background that really uses that to his advantage. When reading the Bloodhound Files series readers are able to really visualize the world that Barant has created and get into the storyline that much more. 

In Barant's world, humans are a minority, making up 1% of the population. This parallel or alternate reality is mostly peopled with werewolves, vampires, and golems. Jace Valchek, the heroine of the series, and former FBI profiler, has been pulled to this universe in order to catch a human serial killer aptly named Aristole Stoker. Cassius, the mastermind behind this plan continues to allow Jace to believe she will be able to return to her world once Stoker has been caught. In the meantime there is more than enough crime to keep Jace busy as she tries to capture Stoker as a means of her ticket home. That is the overall premise that drives this series. In the latest installment to the series, Better Off Undead, Jace is pulled off the Stoker case and asked to hunt down a werewolf mafia don. During her attempts to nail the bad guy she is bitten by a werewolf and goes to some extreme means to try to prevent the change.

What I truly love about this series is the parallels between our world and Thorpirelem, the world Jace finds herself in. There are some strong parallels between the racial issues in Thorpirelem and the human Civil Rights Movement. Jace spends a great deal of time trying to learn about this world and how she fits into it. Since this is the fourth book in the series, Jace is starting to settle in a bit, meet people and starting to develop relationships with them. Her relationship with her partner Charlie is one of the most interesting parts of the novel in my opinion. The banter that these two have with each other is very sarcastic and dry and that's usually the kind of humor that appeals to me. Barant obviously has the same sense of humor to pull this off so very well.

This one is all about choices and consequences. Since Jace isn't as focused on finding Stoker in this book, she has more time to look into her volatile relationship with Cassius. She is also seeing what goes on in the werewolf and vampire worlds more us close and personal since she is effectively becoming one of them, if she can't figure out a way to thwart it. I liked the fact that Barant gives Jace a choice, but none of the options are ones that she is comfortable with. So she has to choose the lesser of the two evils from her own perspective. I think this perhaps the best book in this series so far and if readers are looking to broaden their horizons and try something different this would be a great series to look into. Barant is able to address a lot of different social issues in a different way than people expect with this series and readers will appreciate the way he plots that into each of his books.

This is a very fast paced book but about the last few chapters Barant really amps up the action and brings the book to a dramatic conclusion that will leave readers satisfied, but also looking forward to the next installment in the series. Better Off Undead is also deeply versed in crime and investigation lure. The plot of the book centers around that idea, but there is so much back story and interesting underlying themes, that it almost takes a back seat to the stuff that not being addressed as much. I really liked that and I know I have a section of readers who love all that underlying emotional stuff. I recommend this one to Urban Fantasy fans and I hope my readers will like the addition of more Urban Fantasy reviews.

Better Off Undead is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 of 5 apples from my book bag!

D.D. Barant lives in Vancouver, BC, and loves monsters, chocolate, animals, reading, comics and lying naked on the beach, while hating bullies, narrow-minded people, Sea Urchin Sushi and gluten. Awful, terrible gluten.

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