Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My time with Deacon Chalk: 3 book reviews


My time with Deacon Chalk

A review of the first three books in the 

Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series.

Blood and Bullets,  Blood and Silver,  Blood and Magick




Deacon Chalk is an A-hole.  There, I said it. And having said it, he’s the type of alpha male, tough as nails, egotistical jerk that you really want to read about. Given the number of paranormal hunter books with touchy-feely tough guys, Deacon Chalk is a breath of fresh air.

A little background. Deacon Chalk was an ordinary guy, whose family was killed by a monster. Instead of drinking Earl Gray tea and complaining, he learned to shoot, kick ass, and hunt the monster down. But he didn’t stop there. Instead, he uses his talents to keep the creatures of the night at bay.

Some transparency here. I know the author. I met James R. Tuck a few years ago at a convention and we chat occasionally when we’re working the same cons. While I enjoy this type of book, I was reluctant at first to read it. I like Tuck and worried that I’d be disappointed. What a mistake. While the character of Chalk is a great one, it’s the strength of Tuck’s writing that truly makes this series pop.

Now, down to business…

While I’ve only read the first three books, there are more out ( a couple of novellas ) and currently are on my list of ‘Must Reads’.

Book one, ‘Blood and Bullets’ introduces us to Chalk and his supporting cast. As you read, you’ll notice that Chalk loves to storm about, bellowing out that he is the only one who can do this job and he works alone. Yet, he rarely goes into battle without his posse in tow.

‘Blood and Bullets’ starts off with a bit of a double-cross and escalates from there into a nonstop blood-spilling, vampire staking, monster hunting adventure… complete with a werespider. As someone who suffers from arachnophobia, let me take this opportunity to thank Mr. Tuck for all the werespider-induced nightmares. (I will hunt you down, but only after the Deacon Chalk series is complete.)

The first book is a great introduction to the world and fleshes out the characters in superb detail. Despite Chalk’s best efforts to be a dick, the reader can’t help but like this testosterone-fueled vampire killing, behemoth.

The second book, ‘Blood and Silver’ (I’m seeing a pattern in his book titles), delves into Chalk’s world a little deeper, especially into the area of the were-creatures. It picks up after the last book and does a great job of giving the reader a sprinkling of flashbacks to remind us of what had happened in the first book, without beating us over the head with an info-dump. While the second book is certainly entertaining and full of blood, gore, and over-the-top violence, it loses the reader somewhat. For me, it wasn’t the were-creatures themselves, but the many types of weres. WereRabbits, WereDeer, WereLions and so on and so forth, culminating into a big bad weremonster (which I’ll not mention here so as not to spoil the surprise.). The number of different were-species kept pulling me out of the story, so I could shake my head before jumping back in to it. Now, I’m not saying it’s bad, but of the three, this is the weakest.

Book three, ‘Blood and Magick’ (Yes, there is a pattern emerging with these titles.) is, in my opinion, the strongest of the lot. The story flows well, the supporting characters all have their moments and Chalk is in top form. It is darker, grittier, and has great pacing. New characters are dropped in to Chalk’s world and instead of being distractions, they perfect complement the existing supporting cast and move the story along.

In the story, Chalk, who only wants to have some much needed vacation time with his woman, finds himself protecting a trio of werepups from a band of witches bent on using them for ‘evil’ purposes. Added to the mix is a government agency who watch and combat the ‘creatures of the night’, but are they allies or enemies?

I’ll be honest here… while I feel this is the best book of the first three, there was one event near the end that almost made me put the book down. I’ll simply say here that Chalk is a dick, but this act really took the cake. Still, I had to finish the book because, dick or not, the story is just too good not to finish.

Like I said earlier, the occult/paranormal hunter genre is a bit overdone but what makes this series different is the writing. Tuck’s world building, excellent storytelling, and ability to weave the words in the perfect order are truly outstanding.


I highly recommend these books and look forward to reading more of Deacon Chalk.