TERF Wars (Jinx Ballou #4), by Dharma Kelleher

Eight stars

Catching up on my backlog of Dharma Kelleher novels, I realised how much I miss the author’s gritty delivery and unique perspective when it comes to crime. Kelleher’s novels approach the genre from a LGBTQ+ perspective, with the Jinx Ballou series adding a trans woman flavouring. Exploring the world of abuse and mistreatment of the trans population, Kelleher educates and entertains in equal measure throughout this piece.

Jenna ‘Jinx’ Ballou is a successful bounty hunter in the Phoenix community, having developed great skills tracking criminals when she worked for the police. Jinx has come a long way, having transitioned to a woman at an early age and has not suffered a great deal of the transphobic attacks that many of her friends have encountered. Her happiness is so strong that she is ready to marry her long-time fiancé, Conor, and the wedding is in only a matter of days.

When she is given the file of a accused murdered who killed a Black trans woman, Jinx takes on the case with gusto. This is a heinous crime and Jinx will not let anyone tell her otherwise. However, as she tries to track down the criminal, Jinx is set upon by a group, Womyn Born Womyn, a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) collective who want nothing but to spew hatred and violence. Jinx adds this to her motivation and sets out to capture a bail jumper.

When the case takes her to Vegas, Jinx finds herself in a heap of trouble and lands in jail for a night, but this will not deter her from getting to the bottom of what’s been going on. She will not rest until she captures the criminal, who has been stirring up added hatred for trans women and targeting Jinx with a number of social media ploys.

As the wedding approaches, Jinx can only hope that she will be able to complete the capture and leave it behind her. However, some have other plans and Jinx’s own wedding turns into a bloodbath, only adding to the intensity needed to re-capture the criminal. TERF or not, this group is one that cannot remain free to express their hateful views and the truth must come out. Kelleher does a wonderful job capturing the many themes of the book and provides the reader with some powerful reading.

I have been trying to remember how I stumbled across the works of Dharma Kelleher, to no avail. However it ended up working, I have been able to thoroughly enjoy each of the books presented to me, gathering information about topics to which I was clueless and themes that do not enter my usual reading experiences. Either way, it has been a stunning and eye-opening experiences, as well as being highly entertaining. I learn so much and appreciate the effort Kelleher puts into her pieces of fiction.

Much like her series involving a female biker gang, this collection of novels about bounty hunters extends well past what I might usually read. Adding the LGBTQ+ flavouring and I am completely out of my depth, but still love the reading experience. Kelleher offers up a strong narrative with known direction to keep me on my toes throughout, offering up characters who guide the story along and keep things entertaining in doing so. Plot twists that mirror societal issues help not only to surprise the reader but educate them on some of the struggles to which they might not have been aware. Gritty and full of relevant discussions, Kelleher offers readers a jagged view of things, refusing the dilute the arguments at any time. I can only hope that Dharma Kelleher has more to come and that others take a moment to explore the themes she has to offer.

Kudos, Madam Kelleher, another winner. I am happy to have caught up and am eager to see where your next novel will take me,.