Chaser (Jinx Ballou Bounty Hunter #1), by Dharma Kelleher

Eight stars

Dharma Kelleher returns with this debut novel in her new series, one that is sure to pique the interests of those readers who enjoy something a little grittier. Jenna Christina ‘Jinx’ Ballou is a well-respect bounty hunter in Phoenix. With eight years experience and time working for Phoenix PD, she has the intuition needed to hunt down criminals of all stripes and colours. She’s quite excited to be featured in a local news magazine, sure to highlight all her accomplishments. However, the journalist spins the article to reveal a personal matter she has kept under wraps for close to two decades; that she is transgender. While this has not proven to impede her abilities to work, it would seem that many in her line of work are a little less than accepting. Having been blackballed by many, Jinx is forced to peddle her wares and is given a one-time chance to locate a significant bounty in only five days. A teenage girl has been charged with murdering her mother and, while out on bail, has disappeared from her aunt’s custody. While the aunt vows that she has no idea where she might have gone, Jinx is not too sure. Rumour has it, she’s been scooped up by some random man, though details remain sketchy. Working with her boyfriend and fellow bounty hunter, Conor, Jinx uses all her contacts to locate this young woman, which takes her to the darkest parts of the city. Risking her life and limb every day, Jinx must juggle her work and background as she faces people with little regard for respect and responsibility. Time is running out and Jinx has to secure this bounty or face dire consequences in all parts of life. Kelleher does a fantastic job opening the reader’s eyes to the world of bounty hunting and acceptance of people in all walks of life. Those who have enjoyed Kelleher’s past work will likely find this piece of great interest.

While I do not usually read the type of books that Kelleher pens (bikers and bounty hunters), I find the quality and ease of understanding to be highly addictive. Kelleher invests time and energy to ensure that the reader, no matter their walk of life, can feel comfortable reading this material and, at times, develop an affinity for the genre. Jinx Ballou is a character that is sure to prove curious to the attentive reader. She is filled with layers of personality traits that complement one another, while also bringing much backstory to keep things from getting too mundane. A bounty hunter in a male-dominated field, she has grit and determination to differentiate herself from others, without going over the top. Kelleher handles the transgender angle respectfully and offers the reader education rather than feeling as through they are being inculcated with information. There is a delicate mix and Jinx juggles all parts of her life while also keeping the story moving forward. Some of the other characters serve to accentuate differentiate varying aspects of the story’s plots, be they the world of bounty collection, sexual acceptance, or personal growth. Kelleher has shaped these secondary characters as effective vessels to speak to the perspectives she wishes to portray throughout. Turning to the story, it is gritty and does not slow down at any point, but does alternate between plot and characters development. This is important, particularly if Kelleher wants to create a series, for it is connection to both that will have the reader wanting more. Pulling no punches, Kelleher tells things as they are, injecting saucy dialogue to create a degree of realism to the character interaction. This will surely offend or upset some readers, but that would likely be the crowd who’d not return nonetheless, so there is little lost keeping them on the wayside. I have been happily surprised to see all the pieces Kelleher has presented to date and hope she has more in store for her fans, no matter the topic.

Kudos, Madam Kelleher, for another winner. I can see so much potential and hope you’re getting the support from readers and writers alike to keep pushing forward with this venture.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: