Book review – Raw Deal by Mark Henwick

Raw Deal (Bite Back prequel)Raw Deal by Mark Henwick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This excellent urban fantasy hits the ground running and never lets up.
Amber Farrell is an ex-military special-ops soldier, trying (not very successfully) to fit into her new life as a rookie cop in Denver. Although it turns out she’s never really left the army – she still reports to her superior officer, and he has the say-so on whether she’s allowed to remain at large, or be hauled back into the research facility monitoring her ‘condition’, because Amber has been bitten by a vampire. She hasn’t turned into one yet, but the army is keeping a close eye on her.
Apart from her awesome physical training, Amber now has one particularly special, possibly unique, ability – she can sniff out vampires. And that’s what she’s doing in Denver.
Now in recent years, particularly since starting to read indie published books, I’ve become quite picky, and for the most part I’ve stopped reading vampire fiction. For me, there are only so many times I can read about the darkly handsome stranger struggling against his vampiric nature to love the heroine. Books with vampires in other roles, I can take, but most times if the story revolves around vampires, I stop reading the blurb.
I was encouraged to give this one a go by a friend and book reviewer, and I’m so glad I listened to her. These vampires are nasty, and they don’t hog the story. This is Amber’s life we are reading about and boy, does she have issues to deal with.
Without getting too far into the plot, much of the story centres around a dubious vampire-themed night club, Club Agonia, where sex and SM are the norm, presided over by an exotic madam with a mega understanding of the dark desires of her customers – and of Amber.
Mark Henwick’s writing is so good it’s invisible – I was drawn so thoroughly into the characters I empathised with all their feelings. At the same time, this is an action tale, with blood and nastiness, and if I have one tiny whinge about it, I thought the vampires died too easily, but hey, Amber has all those superbly honed reactions and she got the job done.
This novella is a prequel to Henwick’s popular ‘Bite Back’ series, and I enjoyed it so much I went straight out and bought Sleight of Hand as soon as I was finished.
Highly recommended.

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