Who let the dogs out? It’s time to begin an examination of a new urban fantasy series: The Bloodhound Files. So let’s get started by profiling Dying Bites, by D. D. Barant.
Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…
Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…
The thing which drew me to check out The Bloodhound Files was of course the premise: an FBI profiler unexpectedly pulled from our world into a fantasy realm full of vampires, werewolves, and golems, forced to use her talents to help her track down a serial killer in a world of magic she doesn’t fully understand.
The book wastes no time in transporting Jace to the alternate world. In fact, if anything, it occurred too quickly. I was left with a lot of questions I wish the book would slow down long enough to answer: how long have the two worlds been aware of each other? How common is knowledge of the existence of other worlds? How much contact is there between them? This is normally something that series address right away. The answer might be that knowledge is common on both sides and interaction routine (Tinker by Wen Spencer); or that it is common knowledge on the magical side but unknown on the human side (A Darker Shade Magic by V. E. Schwab); or that it is known by those in power but kept secret from the general public (Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica); or any of a number of variations – the point is, it’s made clear to the audience. Dying Bites, however, remains firmly ambiguous on the subject. The people Jace meets at her job treat it as no big deal that she’s been summoned from an alternate world, but Maureen implies that this was a ploy by Cassius to make Jace think she is disposable when in fact she is extremely valuable; the summoning sequence implies that Jace’s boss in the human world is aware of the other world, but the fact that it’s part of her trippy dream sequence means that it could just be part of the spell intended to put her at ease for her transition between worlds. I don’t know, and the book won’t tell me.
While that hang-up did prevent from getting into the book a bit, I did eventually get swept up in the flow of things and started enjoying it quite a bit right about the time Bearbreaker was introduced. From there, things started accelerating exponentially; one shocking twist and revelation piling on top of another until what began as a hunt for a single serial killer transformed into a desperate quest to prevent the world from being devoured by Lovecraftian gods. (“High Power Level Craft”? More like H.P. Lovecraft, amirite?) It was quite a roller coaster by the end, and I could easily have ended up giving this book a higher rating if only the beginning hadn’t been so slow and muddled.
As it is, it’s still enjoyable enough for me to recommend it. I’m definitely going to keep following this series; hopefully, with the main introduction to this new world now out of the way, later entries in the series will have the time to answer my remaining questions.
Final Rating: 3/5