56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Jace Valchek is a very good profiler for the FBI in St. Louis and she has worked very hard to earn her top-notch reputation. Suddenly her entire world is turned upside down when she finds that she has been moved by magic into a parallel universe and that no amount of clicking her heels together will get her back to Kansas. At least, not the Kansas she knows.
Wow, Oh Wow! Just fasten your seat belt and hang on tight for this fantasy excursion into another world altogether. Jace is pulled without any warning whatsoever into a parallel universe because there is a serial killer on the loose and the NSA in that world needs the profiling skills Jace has to help them catch their killer before another murder takes place. Now, Jace is good at her job but she has never faced situations like these before. To begin with let's just take into account the makeup of the population she is now in. The percentages are: 37% vampire, 43% lycanthrope, 9% golem and 1% human. Uh-oh! And, the NSA boss Jace is working with, David Cassius, assures her that the serial killer is not only human, but that this particular human is insane. These ritual killing victims are vampires and lycanthropes alike but all of this seems to be leading to a big picture which is likely to put the entire universe at risk.
This story started out with Jace being called in to help profile the serial killer but went on to get bigger and bigger until it involved Jace trying to save an entire world. As if that wasn't enough for a girl to handle on a good day, Jace is having some very bad days. It seems that her body is suffering from RDT (Reality Dislocation Trauma) and her only option is to drink an herbal concoction called Urthbone, a substance which will help ground her both physically and psychically to her new environment. When she takes the Urthbone it makes her more sensitive to the emotions of some of those around her, when she doesn't she gets so sick that she lands back in the hospital. So, what's a girl to do?
This book is an intense reading experience and definitely not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of the victims of the killings and HOW they were killed are graphic and gruesome. Remember that Jace was dealing with victims who were either vampire or lycanthropes. That meant that special considerations had to be taken into account for HOW to not just kill them, but make them stay dead. Really, really inventive stuff from this author but not for those with a tendency to queasiness. Jace is a fabulous character for me. She is smart-mouthed but funny at the same time, sarcastic, witty, definitely not charming and she doesn't show a lot of sympathy for rules or rule-makers, but her intuition for scoping out another person is usually spot on. I liked her, I liked her a lot.
I highly recommend this book. Now, does the above mean that it was a perfect book? Nope, at least not for me. My problems with it may seem small but to me they mattered. First of all, saving the entire universe??? Really? The scope of this book grew to be so large that it became almost overwhelming. It only worked for me because I forced myself to LET it work. I think the adventure went too far too fast for someone who has just landed in that universe. Hey, that's just me, but it is my opinion. Next, the use of abbreviations. I really got annoyed. Pire for vampire, thrope for lycanthrope, vic for victim. Every flippin time I came across one of those my little pea sized brain took a stumble and I had to back up and read the sentence again to understand why we were talking about spires, OH, NOT SPIRES, JUST PIRES. Well, sure, that makes me feel better. To me, the first time I saw vic I thought it was a typo. Then I wondered who Vic was. Oops, vic as in victim. I see by the excerpt from book #2 that these same abbreviations will be present again. Darn! Without those things which annoyed me personally as a reader, I know I would have had nothing but praise for D D Barant who is a new author for me to keep tabs on.
By the way, if you want to know why it is called The Bloodhound Files series, read the book. That's how I found out.
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2009
I enjoyed this book. It was a different take on the vampires and werewolves. I did find the other-world kind of confusing; I never understood very well how the two worlds worked parallel to each other, and I would have liked a more thorough explanation.
Jace was an interesting main character, and I really liked her relationship with her golem partner/protector, Charlie. Charlie was probably my favorite character - he made me smile. I didn't like that she seemed to have a romantic connection with so many males in the book. It seemed unrealistic that so many of these men - I count at least 4 - would have a connection with her so immediately. I don't need it to be a romance, with a solid relationship or anything, but by the end of the book, I was wondering WHY everyone was so attracted to her, and I didn't really believe or trust in her connections to anyone.
The world-building was really interesting. When I let go of my confusion about the two worlds together and focused on the one that Jace was in, it was pretty cool. The alternate history aspect was really well done. Jace's boss and his connections to that alternate history was fascinating. I also liked the Urthbone - I was suspicious of it for a long time, but I liked that it gave Jace subtle abilities.
Overall, I liked this book, but there was too much that took away from it for me to love it. I didn't mind the first-person narration, and if you're looking for a fresh urban fantasy, this is an interesting read.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2009
The premise for this book is rather unusual; Jace Valchek is a talented FBI profiler who is pulled into an alternate dimension. Jace is supposed to be a no nonsense, smart mouthed, balls-y agent; which should help her survive in a world where the human population is down to one percent. Only humans are capable of getting sick in this world - physically or mentally. This is why the drastic measure of pulling someone out of another dimension was taken. None of the police are capable of dealing with the current serial killer that is stalking vampires and werewolves. They believe he is a sociopathic human. Should be interesting, right?
What you really get is an annoying, grating, foul-mouthed, patsy who is dragged around for the first half of the book. I developed a distinct dislike for the heroine half way through the book (it doesn't show, does it?). I almost don't know where to begin with how bad it was....oh! The shear lack of action until the last fifty or so pages. That was just mind numbing. In the first few pages the heroine is pulled into the alternate world, then she is shuttled from crime scene to crime scene. A lot of time is spent in transit or her dealing with the new world. Which you would think would be interesting, but it's not. Then she spends lots of time thinking about how she KNOWS that her "superiors" in the NSA of this alternate world are hiding information from her, information that is pivotal to her case. Does she even once attempt to find out? Use contacts she's made? Anything you would expect an agent working an important case to do? NO! Supposedly she is "important" for her unique training, even though this world that has anti-terrorists agencies - just no one to deal with psychopaths/sociopaths. She is personally sent to crime scenes all over the world. When she gets there she'll asks one or two questions. The information that she gathers is so minuscule that I, as a CSI / Dexter watching reader, am insulted; I can only imagine what a professional in a related field thinks. The information given to the reader is not nearly info to provide an informed guess at what is going on, and almost wasn't enough to keep me reading. (Honestly it was sheer determination to find out how it ended - and it wasn't worth it.) By the end of the book, it feels as if the climax and conclusion are rushed and condensed. BTW- maybe I read this wrong but the whole case she `solves', her boss already knew who the killer was. Just pointless. But the most TERRIFYING, HORRIFYING thing of all is that in the last three pages she decided to set up a sequel.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2010
Ok first comment, which might seem a strange one, but after reading this book I have NO idea why it is named "Dying Bites." It just seems odd.
High level of my review: fun universe, great potential, a few characters I could love, but Ms. Barant needs to find some sense of justice... the punishment fits the crime... proportional response to adversity... drawing lines in the sand... knowing the limits of forgivness... There were more than one or two relationships that were out of whack by the end of the book by those standards. Rating this book two stars or three stars (because it was fun if I could shut off my brain...) was a tough call.
Actually, "odd" is a good word for this book. It was a fun read, don't get me wrong. The universe Barant created is interesting and well thought out. It has a lot of depth to it and made my engagement as a reader that much more intense. Well done there. You should be warned that the violence described is truly gruesome. I am drawn to violent movies and books- I like as much blood and gore as you can throw me, but the crimes in this book gave even me pause.
The characters were hit or miss really- the main character, Jace, is great. She's strong willed, good sense of humor, clearly criminal justice minded. The next most arresting character was her partner Charlie who also happens to be a sand-man. A golem. Frankly it was nothing short of brilliant the way Barant was able to make a sympathetic character out of a "man of clay." And a misguided attempt at romance by a lycanthrope colleague was very well executed as well. The poor thrope came across as more human and real than many people I know in life!
On the unfortunate side, there is Gretchen who is intended to be a friendly character who just comes across as a cardboard doll. And Cassius, the vamp in charge, who seems to not have any real defined character at all despite attempts to give him one. His actions don't line up with what we know of him and what we know of him doesn't line up with how Jace reacts to him. Then there's the "bad guy" who ends up being a far more compelling character than many of the "good guys." Is he meant to be a tragic hero? A sympathetic character? Or was it just more accidental that I like him better than Jace's boss, despite his homicidal tendancies...? And if it was intentional that we like him even a little, then I think the crimes he comitted were entirely over the top- the sadistic nature of the murders SHOULD have pushed Jace away from any possibility of identifying with him and his "inner evil" should have been more clearly revealed. (there was a half hearted, joking reference to Stokholm syndrome that just turned my stomach at the thought)
Which brings me to my biggest concern. I really enjoyed reading the book over all. It wasn't until I finished reading the last line that I realized my concern was not going to get addressed. Jace as a character seems smart and able to manage serious issues in appropriate ways, including biding her time. However, I have to admit that I would have imagined just a little more of a reaction from her over being kidnapped from her own world, given a nearly impossible task which put her life in danger multiple times, having key information withheld that would have helped her get the job done, being used as bait, betrayed and finding out that those people you are working with are actually mass murderers. I dunno... I guess I thought a character like Jace would take more of an issue with becoming the bottom of the food chain, held against her will indefinitely and having to cuddle up to people guilty of genocide. Yet the book ends with her SMILING after learning she is not going to get to go home yet...
Despite this, I will read book 2. I do like Jace as a rule and the universe is certainly engaging as I said, but it wasn't the best example of this type of writing and the gruesome nature of some of the crimes committed and alluded to just seemed HUGELY out of proportion to the reaction we were getting.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2009
I really enjoyed this novel. Barant's alternate world of forensic animists, sharp-dressed golems, and goth-chick werewolves gets the background details right in a delightful way even as I'm fairly sure Agent Jace Valchek hasn't been told the whole truth about the relationship between her native world and her new one. Everyone has an agenda that colors their story of why she was needed to find the killer she has been brought over to profile, whatever the cost. Even, perhaps, the killer himself? The mystery is compelling, the characters and the cultures drew me in, and I'm anxiously awaiting the promised next installment _Death Blows_. I want to know more about Jace, Charlie, Dr. Pete and the worlds between them.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2010
I like the concept of the story...but I feel like the author was trying way way way to hard to make Jace a bitchy sarcastic woman who "doesnt need anyones help". (yeah we've all heard that one a million times) I do normally like characters that are witty and sarcastic...but this was over the top and hard to believe. She just came off as a giant bitch that I couldnt force myself to like. I HATED that it was written in present tense, I couldn't get into it. I almost put it down before I even got halfway through, but then I ran out of books to read and pushed on through. I actually liked it by the end, I got hooked into the story line and Jace seemed to tone it down a little. I've even read the second book. I would suggest trying to read it all the way through before deciding wether or not you like it, but I wouldn't blame you if you put it down.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2012
I love a plucky heroine, who doesn't back down and is tad sassy, just as much as the next guy. In a choice between a simpering damsel and a buttkicker, i will always choose the buttkicker. However, this heroine is just too much to stomach. She's straight out rude, abrasive, tackless, and ungrateful. Considering she was dropped in a world of predators, where humans are the minority, it's suprising she was not killed within the first chapter. I was disappointed to be introduced to a new, complex world, only to have the story ruined by the main character.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2010
I expected to enjoy this book: the premise was interesting, the reviews for the most part were promising and, while I like to think myself a discriminating reader, I am really quite easily entertained.
What turned me off most was using a present tense narrative; it was uncomfortable. A close second was the main character - she was very annoying, with repetitive thoughts patterns and few discernible redeeming qualities.
Some of the characters had real potential, especially Charlie. Even Gretchen, though a bit too similar to Pam in the Sookie Stackhouse books, could have been developed into a worthwhile character. But it never happened. The author could have killed off the whole cast and I doubt it would bothered me.
Before I started this book, I already had the upcoming sequel in my cart. By the time I finished reading it, I had deleted it. There are too many good authors waiting to be read to waste my time on this one.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2010
I greatly enjoyed this book. The heroine was smart, savvy, funny and took no prisoners. The book moved incredibly quickly, which I can see many readers not enjoying, but I enjoyed the brisk pace and the building stakes of the challenges she was facing. The pacing reminded me of the first book of Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber series, with the action moving quickly right from the beginning. The supporting cast is just ok- her golem partner is clearly the standout. I (mostly) enjoyed her relationships with her four suitors. The relationships were fairly complex, and I found all of the men to be compelling characters, but for reasons that become clear once you read the book, I couldn't help but have varying levels of resentment towards them. I can't really root for our heroine to be involved with any of them, and think that seeing her seriously pursue a romance with them in future books would be a deal-breaker for me (two of them would be revolting, one merely an incredibly bad idea that would inevitably lead to heartbreak, and there may be one exception that is at all decent, but he's also kinda boring. She's better off single unless another option comes along).
The plot of the book is like a cop procedural meets the Lovecraftian Old Gods, which I absolutely loved, as Cthulu and that ilk are a great favorite of mine. There is something entirely creepy and compelling about the eldritch abominations she is facing.
I had one major issue with the book. Towards the end Jace discovers a huge, devastating piece of information that some characters have been hiding from her. I found it very difficult to believe that she could continue working with them under any circumstances once she had discovered it, based on her character up to that point. There was nothing about the way she thought or acted that led me to believe she could ever accept what had been done, much less become invested in the system that perpetrated it. Maybe if it was made clearer that she intended to fight that system, or participate in righting what had been done in some way (not necessarily by joining the dark side, but by trying to do SOMETHING to change the status quo) I could have bought it. That one fact brought the rating down two stars. The more I thought about it, the less I could accept it.
I will still be reading the next book in this series because overall I had a blast, but I hope that the author does a little more to justify or at least explain the heroine's choices.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
In a crowded genre, Dying Bites is fresh. The premise is so simple that it feels obvious, which is the mark of a really ingenious idea: Jace Valcheck is an FBI profiler pulled into another dimension, a same-yet-different world where humans make up only 1% of the population. In this new world, vampires and werewolves have all the physical advantages and all the political power; humans are barely scraping by.
There are some original twists on vamps and weres - like the spell that allows vampires to reproduce by donating biological years to their child, with the baby growing one year older for each six months the parents age - but the really fun new addition is golems. In Barant's world, the golems are technologically advanced versions of the clay statues of legend; a slaughtered animal's spirit is fused with sand and then poured into a plastic casing. The golems don't eat, don't sleep, don't have sex, and can't swim (they're too heavy!). Jace, as a weak human, is assigned a very intimidating golem bodyguard, Charlie, made from the spirit of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. For all his limitations, Charlie is just about the best character in the novel - he has a dry wit, a dapper style, and he's utterly fearless. I didn't expect to find the golems very interesting, but it only took a few pages with Charlie before I was totally sold.
The storyline could be an episode of CSI, with the addition of supernatural beings. The NSA is tracking a serial killer, a human murderer with three victims under his belt. The NSA bigwigs are certain that the guy is crazy, and that's why they need Jace. Vampires and Werewolves are immune to mental illness, and with so few humans around there is little knowledge of such diseases. Her expertise is literally non-existent in this parallel world.
I was really hooked on the plot as Jace pieces together an understanding of the villain's motives and, simultaneously, discovers that she can't trust her own team. The murders are clearly political in nature - a human being outraged at the way his species is treated - and the NSA people don't feel like telling Jace about all the horrors and atrocities fueling the killer's anger. At some point, as the information trickles in, Jace starts to wonder if she's on the right side.
Mixed in with all this good stuff are a few pretty serious flaws. First of all, all the romantic elements here are horribly botched. There isn't one moment of sexual tension that felt real to me. All the men capable of having urges in this book are attracted to Jace - that's annoying. It's especially annoying because these guys give off vibes which seem really low key to me - "That Jace Valcheck, she's spunky and good-looking, wouldn't mind sleeping with her" - but Jace interprets these mild urges as cause for serious drama.
Which brings me to my biggest problem with the novel: Jace. She is supposed to be a consummate professional but she is not. In the course of this one novel she gets drunk on the job, she sleeps with a colleague, and she goes AWOL repeatedly. In general, if Jace has to choose between calmly taking control of a situation and running off half-cocked, she'll go for the latter.