Dual Review: Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck

Filed in 3 1/2 Stars , 4 Stars , Dual Review , featured , James R Tuck , Review , The Latin Lover , The Quirky Lover Posted on March 30, 2012 @ 12:00 pm 1 comments

Format read: ebook copy provided by author
Release Date: 7 February 2012
Number of pages:
352 pages
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Kensington


He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities help him take out any kind of supernatural threat. But now an immortal evil has this bad-ass bounty hunter dead in its sights. . .

Ever since a monster murdered his family, Deacon Chalk hunts any creature that preys on the innocent. So when a pretty vampire girl “hires” him to eliminate a fellow slayer, Deacon goes to warn him–and barely escapes a vampire ambush. Now he’s got a way-inexperienced newbie hunter to protect and everything from bloodsuckers to cursed immortals on his trail. There’s also a malevolent force controlling the living and the undead, hellbent on turning Deacon’s greatest loss into the one weapon that could destroy him. . .

Our Thoughts:

Stella: I would like to start by saying how very different Blood and Bullets was from all of the other UF books I have read so far. The main reason for that was due to its narrator Deacon Chalk being a man. I think so far I have read only one other UF novel written by a male author, and even that one figured a heroine, so I was curious to see how Blood and Bullets would differ, and I have to say it did. Blood and Bullets is a macho book, in the good sense of the word: there is a lot of talk about cars, guns and their types and specific qualities and the hero is 100% male. He is like a modern Chuck Norris, a cross between Vin Diesel and Arnold Schwarzenegger: he is verrry badass. No pretense, he is a beat them up kick their asses kind of tattood muscle guy:

I am not opposed to violence, but I get no real joy out of it. If my world had never been destroyed by the monsters I swear I would have been a nice, normal person. Really. If they had left me and mine the fuck alone, I would not be where I am today. I’d probably be raising puppies and painting sunsets.

To sum up, I am a big, bald, tattooed, scary looking dude,

Jackie: I’ve read a few of the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher but I found definite differences between the two. Blood and Bullets is much as you described, with the cars and guns, etc. Its attention to details like oily hinges and steel doors (and more) were precise and descriptive. I like your character comparisons too 🙂

I think what stood out for me is how Deacon thinks. It seemed authentic, in as much as I can compare to real “male” thinking, without being overly sexist. He was somewhat emotional about the death of his family, while still maintaining that hard shell. I think it reinforced that hard as nails exterior yet subtly showed Deacon’s softer side without being mushy about it.

Stella: I completely agree! His voice, his thoughts sounded authentic and real, and it was refreshing reading the thoughts and impressions of a male narrator, and I think James R. Tuck found the very delicate balance in making Deacon very virile and macho, yet he is capable of emotions and tears, and somehow the word “weak” never crossed my mind in the scenes he was crying. Yes, despite the hardass look (very tall, muscled, tattooed guy with shaved head) and attitude he had a warm and kind heart and he was a softie (just look at all the scenes with Tiff 😉 )

Speaking of Tiff let’s talk about the arsenal of secondary characters. There was Kat, blonde bombshell, fantastic researcher and right hand woman of Deacon (sadly she didn’t get too much “screen time”, so I hope in later books we’ll get to know her more), Larson the nerdy inexperienced vampire hunter, Charlotte the very unique were-spider (never read about were-spiders before) and two of my favourite characters: Tiff and Father Mulcahey. Father Mulcahey was amazing: he was a devoted Catholic priest with abounding faith and yet he was a hardass fighter and chainsmoker.

He smokes, drinks, cusses, and believes in God and His Son Jesus Christ with all his heart and soul. Proficient in Shaolin kungfu, Brazilian Ju-jitsu, Ninpo, Kenpo, and Muy Thai, he can shoot like a sniper and knife fight like a hardened convict. The priest is one of the toughest sonnofabitches I know. I met him when I first started on this road. He serves bar downstairs at night, performs Mass in the mornings, and is there for whatever I need to fight my war. Sometimes it‘s advice. Sometimes it‘s cover-fire.

His character was unique and spot on! And Tiff well, she was just plain adorable and brought some much needed sweetness and innocence to the story.

Jackie: When I first read about Father Mulcahey, I immediately thought of the TV character from MASH. Thankfully, his description was far from the TV incarnation. I liked the contrast of Kat’s appearance versus her personality, though I was a bit miffed that Deacon said he knew she was in love with him. Typical guy to assume every woman he knows loves him, lol. Appollonia was perfectly creepy, particularly when she spoke through Gregorio’s body *shudders*.

Stella: Oh yes, Appollonia was the perfect villainess! Her stare, her voice, brr… enough to think about her to give me shivers..

Jackie: I also liked the direction Tuck’s research took, in the line of the myths and legends. There were some interesting references that I hadn’t read in other UF books before, ie. Helletog was a Chaldean word for demonspeak.

Stella: Yes! One of my favourite myth/historical tidbit/legend incorporated into the story was the legend of the Holy Spear (or Spear of Destiny) and that Longinus one of the Roman soldiers present at Christ’s crucifixion, who pierced his side became an actual character in this modern and kickass urban fantasy story, how unique is that?

Usually UF novels do not tend to use any reference to faith, religion or God, and it was interesting to see what James R. Tuck did in bringing it to the mix but still in the very original way of the unique priest and Deacon who is definitely not your typical catholic boy as he curses and does not lead a restrained holy life.

Jackie: I liked that the author brought religion into the book without making it preachy. Books tend to lean too far one way or the other, I think, but this was a nice blend of the characters’ pride in their beliefs and information to the reader that would play a larger part in the story.

Stella: Besides the male narrator what also contributed in making Blood and Bullets different from the other UF novels was that here vampires aren’t romanticized, here they are more zombie like, monsters often with disgusting rotting corpses.

Jackie: I was wondering where he was going with the comparison to zombies. He used images of anorexic vampires, which seemed to indicate a difference to what even Deacon was used to seeing and I thought it would have deeper meaning as the story went on. These vamps also had talons. To see how it all played out, you have to read it yourself 😉

Then there were also references to other demon/vampire hunter colleagues of Deacon: Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake) and Jeaniene Frost (Cat and Bones) and Sam and Dean (Supernatural) were mentioned.

Stella: Yep, that was something I noted as well 🙂

Jackie: One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was the tongue in cheek humour throughout the story. There could have been a lot of darkness and gore, as well as overwhelming descriptions of the weaponry, but the ironic humour helped to maintain a nice flow in the story, evening the other aspects out.

Stella: You said it perfectly! Deacon’s acerbic and sarcastic humour said with a serious face cracked me up! The humour was well dosed out in the story and somehow it fit perfectly even amidst all the darker and stressful scenes.

I had already had a weird night. Now this asshole was starting to freak me out because he was being bizarre. Freaking me out is not a good idea. It tends to make me shoot people.

Deacon when talking to a vampire lord:

“I leave you guys alone unless I have to.” Not entirely true, I kill them every chance I get, but that would be over sharing.

The pain made a migraine feel like an orgasm.

The fight scenes were described well, while being fast and action packed they remained easy to follow. The battle scenes were gory and you were not spared any details:

Gregorios bent at the waist like he had been hit by a baseball bat. The two slugs exploded out of his back in a spray of black blood and gore. .44 caliber Orion Outfitter bullets, in like a penny, out like a pizza.

The last battle scene was epic: everyone was armed to the teeth, and I loved the cool weapon descriptions: everyone was using different tactics and weapons: spider venom, katanas, automatic guns, Japanese knife, blessed crosses, revolver, etc.

Jackie: The writing was also different in a way. At times, it seemed rough, but if you put it in the context of how this hero was thinking, it makes sense that being in a first person perspective, it would come across as brusque. It took some getting accustomed to but provided further insight into the male mind.

Stella: For me the story flowed quite smoothly, I enjoyed Deacon’s no pretense narrating voice. There were a few repetitions (e.g. how “the Comet was streaking up the road as its namesake”) and typos (the major recurring one which made my eyes bleed was the consistent use of “thru” instead of “through”), but they did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel. Deacon’s voice was authentic and clear and brought the story to life for me. (I also enjoyed how music played such an important role  setting the mood adding little brushstrokes of detail to the scenes and the characters’ mood).


Jackie: I think Blood and Bullets was a neat book that, at times, felt like it would play out well on screen also. It had some interesting elements that I personally hadn’t read about before, like “a kiss of vampires” or a “renfield”, plus some historical references which all added to its uniqueness. Despite the editing of the book, I liked it and now have a serious itch to go to a gun range. You never know when a supernatural creature epidemic will make gun knowledge a must 😉

I give Blood and Bullets 3.5 stars!


Stella: Blood and Bullets is an action packed UF novel with tons of gunshot and punches that will make you bite your nails and your pulse race. Deacon Chalk, its badass, guntoting, doorkicking hero, is a great and very different narrator with a fresh and highly entertaining voice. Blood and Bullets is so much more than vividly described thrilling action scenes, the worldbuilding is unique and complex (there is a whole vampire hierarchy with their different “castes”), the characterisation has subtleties and as Jackie mentioned I would love to watch some Deacon Chalk action movies, he would be quite as good as Bruce Willis if not better, he already has the requisite witty humour and cocky attitude down 😉

I give Blood and Bullets 4 stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

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  • Alisha March 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks for this review, ladies! I’m really digging what I’m hearing about the protagonist. I don’t read anywhere near as much male-protag urban fantasy as I could and should, and this looks like a great place to start.

    Deacon Chalk, I’d love to meet you! Soon, very soon. ^_^

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