Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Better Off Undead, D.D. Barant ****

1 star 2 star 3 star 4 star
Jace Valchek returns, and is back to form! Hopefully, if you're reading Better Off Undead (the fourth installment in the Bloodhound Files series), you're familiar with the story: FBI Profiler Jace Valchek is sucked into a parallel universe where the paranormal is normal. She needs to catch an insane human serial killer to get her ticket home. Here, as a human, she's an endangered species, but Valchek might just be getting her wolf on. Oh, and she needs to catch an insane werewolf mob boss, too.

What I thunked:

After a somewhat shaky third installment, Jace is back to kicking butt. She's settled into a life in this world. The Jace/Charlie banter that is the lifeblood of this series is back (it was sorely lacking, for obvious reasons, in Killing Rocks [obvious if you've read it, that is]); Jace is again learning more about Thropirelem, but seeming more at home; Cassius is manouvering. It's GOOD. The best since Dying Bites. In fact, I genuinely think this may be the best in the series so far. Some of my favourite parts of this book were Jace's interactions with her shape-shifting St Bernard, Galahad, and there was another scene involving a very new Lem, Billy Beta, that got me a bit sniffly. The [very obvious] parallels with our own universe's civil rights movements work here, and add depth, realism, and soul to this series.
Readers will also get some satisfaction as the ever-enigmatic Cassius gets even more backstory (there's a LOT of backstory when you're two thousand years old), and his relationship with Jace develops further. This is also an interesting aside: Cassius is fascinating, and I would have thought I'd enjoy seeing more of him--which is exactly what we got in Killing Rocks. While Cassius is (very) present in this installment, he's not half as ubiquitous as he was in the previous, and I enjoy his scenes all the more for the waiting.

So Basically:

These books are brilliantly plotted. They have tight episodic storylines, but the overarching story arc throughout the series is also splendid, and Barant doesn't seem to lose site of it. They books constantly reminding me of a TV series (Fringe!). Individual episodes, but a much larger story arc. You can tell DD Barant is a TV Writer, and it works. I haven't enjoyed a series so much, without reservations, in a long time.
If you've not seen these books before, I can't recommend them strongly enough. So entertaining, so fun, and breath of fresh air when so many urban fantasy's seem so similar.

The Series:

  1. Dying Bites ****
  2. Death Blows ***
  3. Killing Rocks **
  4. Better Off Undead ****
  5. Back From The Undead (2012)

Get It:

Better Off Undead at Booktopia
Better Off Undead at Amazon

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