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Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer. . .until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any ...
Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer. . .until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any humans in their way. Suddenly, Deacon is outnumbered, outgunned, and unsure who--or what--to trust. The only edge he has left is a weapon hungry for his soul and his most savage impulses. And using it will exact a price even this hell-raising hunter fears to pay. . .
Praise for Blood and Bullets
"Deacon Chalk kicks monster ass!" --Faith Hunter, author of Raven Cursed
"James R. Tuck's debut novel delivers a fast-paced, action-filled story that kicks off his new series with a bang. If Dirty Harry and Anita Blake had a love child, he would be Deacon Chalk." --Jenna Maclaine, author of Bound by Sin
Don't Miss Deacon Chalk's Debut! Blood And Bullets
But I was having a good day. Scratch that, I was having a great day. My friend Tiff had dragged me downtown to a little carnival that had set up in a parking lot. It took some persuasion on her part; after all, I am a big badass occult bounty hunter. We had ridden rides and filled our bellies with greasy carnival food, laughing in the sunshine and making fools of ourselves. We were surrounded by normal humans, families enjoying themselves. There were no monsters. No bloodshed.
So far the only thing that had threatened my life was a rickety Tilt-A-Whirl and some sketchy-looking hot dogs.
And I'd had a good time. Leaving the carnival, I was happy to simply walk down the street, the warm sun on my back, and a good-looking woman at my side.
I was at peace with God, nature, and my fellow man.
And I should have known some asshole was going to come along and screw it up.
"Are you working tonight?"
My eyes cut over to the small brunette walking beside me. Well, I say brunette, her hair was dyed black and had bubblegum pink cut through it in streaks. Tiff matched me stride for stride, even though at 5'2" she was more than a foot shorter than me. The quick pace flipped her short skirt back and forth, flashing a nice length of leg from hem to calf-high boots.
"Nothing's on the books, but you know that doesn't mean anything." I stepped close to her as we walked. "Don't you have to work the club tonight?"
"Nope, I got Kat to cover so that I'm free." She moved close and her arm slid around my waist. Fingernails painted to match her hair lightly scratched through my T-shirt. A pleasant shiver chased up my spine. Her arm rested above the snub-nosed .44 revolver she knew was at the small of my back. I had a lightweight button-up shirt over it and the big .45 semiautomatic that hung under my arm.
"Maybe we could do Indian food tonight then."
Her free hand rubbed her stomach. "I don't know how you can think of food right now. I am completely stuffed."
"I always think about food when I'm not working." I was comfortable walking beside Tiff. Spring was in the air. Warm but not oppressive, like the South gets in the middle months of the year.
Things had been quiet for a bit, which is why there was time to do things like go to the carnival. Normally I am eyebrow deep in monsters. Work had been pretty tame since last year when I had gone up against Appollonia, an insane hell-bitch of a vampire who had gotten hold of the Spear of Destiny. Of course, that job had nearly killed me, but I was still standing at the end of it. I had survived and managed to kill off a good part of the vampire population in the Southeast. All in all, not a bad day at the office.
That was also the time I had first gotten to know Tiff. The break in action had given me a chance to get to know her better and we had grown pretty close.
We were not dating. I wasn't ready for that. She understood. Hell, she had to. She knew about my family, about what had happened to them. How I had lost them five years ago at the hands of a Nephilim serial killer named Slaine. I hunted him down and found that monsters are real. I found that every nightmare you ever had, every story you ever heard that made you lie awake at night and sweat even though you were cold with fear, every damned thing in the dark that made your heart skip a beat ... it's all real. My thirst for revenge was so great I hunted Slaine anyway, monsters be damned. I chased him even after learning what a Nephilim is.
Nephilim are the offspring of Angels and humans. While tracking Slaine, I came across an Angel. Yes, an honest-to-God Angel of the Lord. Slaine's people were raping her, trying to impregnate her and make more Nephilim, filming it to sell as Angel porn. I killed those sons of bitches and set her free.
After that, I found the bastard who killed my family. Being just human, I was outmatched. He killed me.
When I died, the Angel showed up to return the rescue. She infused me with her blood, or whatever Angels have that passes for blood. It brought me back ... Made me more than human.
I am faster, stronger, and tougher than normal. I heal fast, not like a superhero, but a lot faster than humans. Although it all still hurts like a bitch until I do. I can see almost perfectly in the dark, and I can sense supernatural crap. I killed that evil son of a bitch, and I have been killing every evil son of a bitch I can find ever since.
Oh yeah, I'm Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter.
I hunt monsters for a living.
To this day, the deaths of my family sit like stones where my heart was. Sometimes the pain of their memory is crippling. It breaks my bones and grinds my soul. It crushes me. All I want to do is go be where they are. I can't buy that ticket myself, that's a mortal sin according to the Pope. Kill yourself and go straight to hell. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. So I move on and I keep hunting, waiting for the day I run up on something monster enough to take me out, to send me on my way to be with them. To give me the peace that was ripped away from me with their deaths.
The loss of my family is why I strap up and hunt. I carry the pain and rage of their loss every day. It's always there. Always waiting to crawl from the shadows. Always looking to explode and shatter into shards that cut and tear. I miss them every day.
And there hadn't been anyone since my wife died.
She came along last year in the middle of that shit-storm with Appollonia and the crazy bitch's plan to enslave humanity. Once that was settled, Tiff stayed and made a place in my messed-up life. Somehow, she found a way to make her intentions clear and yet not put any pressure on the situation at all. She knew about my family and what had happened to them. Not the full story, because I still can't talk about it. It's too painful, too sharp. Even without knowing, Tiff still understood. And that was enough for now.
So understand that I was happy when we walked toward the parking lot to leave. All was good and right in this shitty old world, better than it had been in years.
Until we turned the corner and came across a man beating a dog.
The man was large. Dark chocolate skin bulged, thick with muscle. Not quite as big as I am, but a big son of a bitch nonetheless. Fat dreads hung around his head like dirty snakes. They shook as his arm rose and fell and rose again. One hand snarled around a heavy chain connected to a wide leather collar around the dog's neck. The rest of the chain flailed from his other hand, thudding against the dog's sides and haunches.
The dog was curled into a ball, trying to be as small as possible, hiding from the chain as much as it could. Pitiful whimpers mewled with each blow. Blood-slicked shaggy fur picked up dirt and debris from the gravel lot they were in, sticking in layers of brown and gray grit. It was so covered in blood and dirt I couldn't tell what kind of dog it was.
The man stopped beating the dog but was still holding the chain. I could hear his breathing from across the lot, bellowing in and out, short from exertion.
Tiff drew to a stop beside me as I went still. She took a small step away, giving me room to move. Her arm was still behind me and I could feel her hand on the grip of the .44 at my lower back. She had her own in her bag, a CZ-75 9mm, but mine was closer to her hand. She was following the training I had been giving her over the past few months.
The keys to my car were already in my hand since we were close to the parking lot. I handed them off to her. Tilting my head, I spoke from the side of my mouth without taking my eyes off the scene in front of me. "Get the car. Pull it back here and stay in it. Keep the motor running and be ready to go."
I caught her nod from the corner of my eye as she took the keys and moved away. I looked around the lot before I moved. It was at the end of a building on the corner of two streets. The back of the building was a brick wall. Some artist had painted a mural of a girl with a butterfly on her outstretched palm. It was pretty well done. The street side of the lot had a chain-link fence clogged with kudzu that was trying to take over, using the fence as a trellis. Kudzu will grow anywhere. It's like a disease here in the South. Give it a crack in the asphalt to plant itself and it will latch on, getting bigger as each day passes, growing and spreading in little increments like vegetable Ebola. A row of cars lined the fence, leaning on their wheels.
I looked back. No one was coming down the sidewalk. There were a lot of people at the carnival, but they were all far enough away that they looked tiny and indistinct. The coast was fairly clear as long as this stayed quiet.
I took a step, walking toward the man. I rolled my shoulders to loosen them, and flexed my hands open and closed to warm them up. Adrenaline coursed through my arteries, making my heart beat harder. Not faster, the rate stayed the same, but each beat thudded inside my ribcage like a bat to a bell. Each beat slammed an echo inside me and anger rose, pushing more blood through my veins.
People who abuse animals are cowards, especially ones who hurt dogs. Dogs are God's way of showing He still loves us. They only exist to be devoted to us. So when some jackass has to abuse a dog to make himself feel better, it really, really pisses me off.
I am not someone you want pissed off at you.
My whistle cut across the lot, making the guy jerk his head up. Deep amber eyes flashed out under a thick brow. The scowl he gave wrinkled a wide nose and curled his lips into a snarl. His voice rumbled from a deep chest. "Go away, redneck. This is none of your concern."
"When I go away, I will be taking that animal with me, asshole." I stopped just a few feet from him, finger pointed toward his face. "Walk away now and save me the trouble of kicking the shit out of you before I do."
The man dropped the chain on top of the dog with a run of clinks and a thud. The dog didn't move or run away, just lay shaking as the chain slithered off its huddled form. Turning to face me fully, the man flexed his fingers against each other. The knuckles popped loudly. A shudder ran through him. His chest and shoulder muscles compressed under his black T-shirt, tensing for a fight. He raised his face up to look at me.
The bones underneath his skin shifted.
It was subtle, but I saw it. The bones thickened and slipped just ever so slightly, squaring up his skull and widening his mandible. A warm power slid over my skin, rubbing like velvet against the grain. The hairs on my arms stood up. The spring breeze pushed from behind him. The moist smell of cat made my nose wrinkle.
Damn. A lycanthrope in broad daylight.
This changed everything.
My eyes cast around for a weapon to even the odds. Weres are fast as hell and stronger than a motherfucker. I had guns, I always have guns. I even had silver bullets in them, but we were in the middle of downtown on a spring day. There were people around, families just around the corner from where we stood. Hell, we were only three blocks from the local police precinct. Gunshots would bring lawmen a-runnin'. That wouldn't be good. Cops don't have silver bullets. Some of them know about the things I fight, but most are completely in the dark. I try to keep it that way.
The lot was flat and mostly empty, nothing but gravel under my boots. No weapons I could see. I squared my shoulders and started walking toward him again.
"What did you just say to me?" His voice was deeper, the edge of a growl rumbling out into the air.
"I said ..." and with that I closed the space between us, looping my right hand from behind and driving it into the side of his head. My fist slammed into his temple where the skull is its thinnest. It drove his head to the side and pushed him down into a crouch. Fingers closing on a handful of dreads, I jerked his face into my knee, smashing his cheek. Pain made him roar. The volume of it shook me, vibrating through my bones. Velvet power exploded from him, rushing along my body, stinging my skin.
Faster than I could put my foot down, he threw his body back, shaking me off and flinging me backward through the air. My stomach lurched as I sailed above the gravel. One second was all I had to see golden fur erupt from dark skin and his face pull into the shape of a snarling beast. Lion sprang to my mind. Then I was crashing into a row of trash cans, spilling garbage everywhere, thinking about nothing but pain.
Something hard rammed into my back just above my kidneys with a grinding crush. Air whooshed from my lungs as my diaphragm spasmed and jerked. I was blind, vision dark from lack of oxygen. The pile of garbage I was in didn't help as it spilled over me. Something wet and sticky smeared across my arm. Dust and debris flew in my face. Scrambling, I got my feet under me. Heaving lungfuls of air, I shook my head to clear my sight.
A pile of old cinderblocks lay on the ground, scattered from where I had slammed into them. As my eyes cleared, I saw the man who had thrown me was now a full-fledged man-beast. Half man, half lion, he stood like a special effect in a big-budget movie. Sand-colored fur covered him and he had grown in size, more muscular than before, bigger than me. Thick black talons flexed in and out at the end of his fingertips. His body shook. Dreads colored like dirty honey bounced around his leonine face. They had grown out into a thick mat of a mane.
Back turned to me, he had the dog's chain again. His arm lifted, making the dog dangle. Pawing at the air, it struggled to breathe through the choking collar. Blood dripped from its fur, spattering the ground at his feet in a crazy pattern of swirls. High-pitched yelps of pain were choked by the collar and still cut over the low growl that was thrumming from the Were-lion.
Violence coiled inside me like a spring, tension tight, waiting to be unleashed. Anger coursed through my body. My old friend rage washed away the pain in my back with a tide of adrenaline. Eyes squinted, my vision narrowed to a laser-fine focus; only the Were-lion was in my sight. The skin on my fingers scraped as they closed on two of the cinderblocks next to me. They weighed nothing in my anger.
One in each hand, I charged, closing the space between us in the blink of an eye. Fury tore from my throat in a scream as I slammed the two cinderblocks together against his skull.
They shattered into shards of concrete and dust from the impact, falling apart in my hands.
The dog fell from the lion-man's grasp, yelping as it hit the ground and immediately curling into a ball of blood-slicked fur. The lycanthrope dropped to his knees, bonelessly slumping to the side. I was on top of him in a second, fists pounding against the side of his face. Anger drove my fist again and again, trying to batter my way through bone. He was still conscious. He stayed half man and half beast, even though his face was slack and his eyes were closed. If he had passed out, he would have shifted back into a human. I kept beating on him, not giving him a chance to recover. Not even one damn second. One second would be too much. Give him even one second of respite and he would recover, and I would lose the slim advantage I had.
There was a flash of motion to my left. I jerked toward it. Something struck me in the side; then I was tumbling across the ground with a wolf trying to eat my face.
Two-inch-long curved yellow fangs snapped viciously at me. Fetid canine breath left the skin on my cheeks moist, and hot spittle flew as I fought to keep that mouth away from me. Everywhere my hands fell on the wolf to hold it back found muscle vibrating with power. Coarse fur rubbed along my arms, feeling like cotton candy made of steel. I was on my back with the wolf on top of me. My mind registered its size because we were pressed against each other. It weighed a ton as it pressed over me, the wolf was damn near as big as I was.
Excerpted from BLOOD AND SILVER by James R. Tuck Copyright © 2012 by James R. Tuck. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 13, 2012
I absolutely loved this book! I read thru it at an exceptioanl pace because I just couldn't put it down! I am in love with all of the characters and I love the way the author is able to keep us waiting on edge!! I think my favorite part is all of the personalization we get with Deacon, I know what he is thinking at all times. I absolutely cannot wait until the 3rd book is released! I have all publications from this author; completely hooked from the very first page of his very first published work. Keep it up, James! I need more Deacon Chalk in my life!!!!!!!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 7, 2012
A great new gritty hero, flawed and not perfect. Finally something fresh for readers of a more realistic take on the undead. If you love action, guns and violence... I mean who doesn't ? This book is for you!! I know I will read this series and hope the there are many more books. Awesome job!!!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 7, 2012
Posted March 5, 2013
In Blood and Bullets, there was a central theme of vampires. In this, we are taking a look at Mr. Tuck’s Were society. All I can say is that I have never experienced a universe like this; it’s action packed and very unique.
Deacon is back and he is out with a vengeance. After saving a were-dog, he and his crew have taken it upon themselves to protect the innocent woman. Pregnant and nearly beaten to death, they scramble to find out what is going on in their town.
In Were society there are separate rules and laws. The strong prey on the weak and the weaker just take it. To make matters worse, there are two new factions are in town; one of peace and one of power. Together they wreak havoc on Atlanta, and disturb the somewhat quiet calm that the crew has been enjoying for far too long. Now they have to fight a good fight and protect the weaker Were community. But something doesn’t seem right and Deacon is just the man to uncover the truth.
Mr. Tuck has done it again. Wow!! This was a very high octane ride. It is fast, furious and well written. He doesn’t hold anything back, so if you have problems with violence you will not enjoy this book. But come on, look at the cover…Deacon ROCKS the violence. The fighting isn’t sugarcoated and this universe is deadly and unpredictable. The Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty-Hunter series has found its stride. This hero shoots first and asks questions later. No apologies, none what’s so ever.
I was drawn in. His voice is very descriptive; from the characters clothing, their surroundings, and especially Deacon’s man toys. I couldn’t help but get immersed into the story. This is Urban Fantasy at its best. This is raw, with only a slight romantic undercurrent. He has even put a new spin on shifters. I was constantly sitting there wondering; OK…I didn’t expect that. I really enjoyed that aspect. Blood and Silver is refreshing, but in a really bloody gritty way.
I do have one note: While reading I did notice reference to prior battles. They were written in a manner that made me wonder if I had missed something. It turns out I did. There are a couple novellas that have been written between the full novels. Did I need them to enjoy the story? No, but I can see how they would have enhanced my reading experience. I can see me going back at a later date to enjoy them, but I have plans to just plow right into the next book, Blood and Magick. I can’t wait!
Posted March 5, 2013
Posted December 1, 2012
I love this series and can't wait for the next book! This type of book is NOT what I usually read but I am glad that I discovered this author. His books are fun and exciting. I suppose that 16-20 something males would really like these books but have to admit that I am a 52 year old woman and am absolutely hooked!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2012
Posted November 12, 2012
I have read every Deacon book/novella and plan on reading all that are to come (many I hope). A weredinosaur---who knew? The characters are wonderfully done with all of their flaws, weaknesses, fears and hopes. This gritty, rock and roll Urban Fantasy---no angst-filled romance drama to be found. I love the action, the gore, and the suspense in these books and love spending time in Deacon's world. I have read all of Mr. Tuck's work and he is definitely on my must-read list! I have already preordered the next two Deacon books and look forward to being in his world again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 16, 2013
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Posted March 1, 2013
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Posted December 6, 2012
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