Tuesday, 22 January 2008
‘Biting the Bullet’ – Jennifer Rardin (Orbit Books)
This is the third book in Jennifer Rardin’s ‘Jaz Parks’ series, an ongoing tale of the CIA’s war on a different kind of terrorism involving vampires, zombies and the like. The best way to fight fire is with fire so if you’re gunning for a master vampire then you want to have one on your side as well. Vayl is that vampire and he is the CIA’s top operative. Jaz Parks is his bodyguard as well as other things that she is only just starting to find out about. This time around, Jaz and Vayl head up a Special Ops teams assigned to take down a terrorist leader in Iran. Or are they? Nothing is quite what it seems on this mission…
‘Biting the Bullet’ is one of those books where the content really annoys me but the plot keeps me reading instead of putting it aside for something else instead. It’s a short book (just over three hundred pages) and one that I found myself reading over two commutes and an evening at home, despite it being full of everything that I dislike in urban fantasy. There’s a feisty heroine who’s emotionally vulnerable but handy in a fight. She’s in love with the brooding intense vampire who’s also emotionally vulnerable and wrestling with his feelings for her. (Please, stop this! Can’t we just have one book where professionalism in the workplace wins over ‘tacked on romance’?) If that’s not enough, the spirit world seems geared especially to help our heroine through any situation, up to and including keeping an eye on dead comrades and bringing them back to life. I’ve seen this kind of thing in more than one series (by different authors) and, to be honest, I’m starting to feel like I already know what’s going to happen so where’s the point in continuing…
However, all of this spleen venting is coming from someone who tore through the book in just over a day, what happened? It’s simple, despite the shortcomings I found myself really enjoying the story itself. ‘Biting the Bullet’ doesn’t take itself too seriously and this is evident in the relentless onslaught of car chases, gun fights and acerbic conversations with the undead. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is, an entertaining read that isn’t too demanding of the reader. In keeping with the ‘spy feel’ of the story there’s also plenty of intrigue and questions that kept me guessing and interested in what happened next.
I think that ‘Biting the Bullet’ will please fans of the series that are in for the long haul and are happy with what they know they are going to get. For me it was an entertaining read for the train but I don’t see it being a lot more than that. Funnily enough though, I will be reading the next one.
Six and Three Quarters out of Ten