First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Dharma Kelleher, and Dark Pariah Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
A great fan of Dharma Kelleher and her work, I was pleased to be able to secure a copy of her latest novel in the Jinx Ballou series. Picking up soon after the previous novel ended, Jinx Ballou is still trying to process everything that has befallen her, including the apparent death of her fiancé, Conor. While out on a bail enforcement job, the client attempts to flee and takes a header onto the cement. This being part of a long string of incidents, Jinx is fired and begins to wonder if she has done anything productive with her life. Crawling under a rock, Jinx finds solace in the bottle and seeks to detach from the rest of the world. However, a former colleague reaches out to her with a special request, to help locate a trans woman who has skipped bail after a horrible time behind bars. Unsure if this will make her a traitor to the trans community, Jinx debates what to do, but chooses to make an effort, if only to help clear the woman’s name. Working with a new partner, Jinx begins trying to find Zia “Indigo” Pearson. Following a few leads, she finds herself at the Athena Sisterhood Motorcycle Club, where few take a liking to her presence. After a little roughing up, Jinx and the club’s VP, Shea Stevens, agree to work together, as long as they can clear Indigo’s name and find the actually person who killed a hateful preacher keen on espousing the evils of gays and loose women. Jinx finds herself in the middle of a few situations when the girlfriend of an old client resurfaces and seeks her assistance. Trying not to be deterred, Jinx works with Shea on these cases and uses her own PI license to dig a little deeper, discovering that there may be a larger situation at play. With time running out to have Indigo taken into custody before the bail is revoked, Jinx and Shea must work together and try to stay one step ahead of the killer, without become victims themselves. A wonderful addition to the series that allowed Kelleher to bridge her other popular collection, complete with a cliffhanger that will leave series fans screaming for more. Recommended to fans who enjoy police procedurals with a spin, as well as the reader who has discovered and become a fan of Dharma Kelleher’s work.
While she does bring a unique perspective to the crime thriller genre, Dharma Kelleher does well to advance causes dear to her without treating the reader like a square. She has tackled the “trans and queer aspects” (her words) well and promotes a better understanding of the lives those within the community live, meshing them nicely with other groups. I find the frank discussion not only refreshing, but needed in an era where some have turned to scoffing at those who are different, be it verbally or hidden behind Twitter. Jinx Ballou is the perfect protagonist for this series, working through many o issues from her past and into the present. Coming out and transitioning at a young age, Jinx knows what it is like to be ostracised, but has always had the support of her family and close friends. She uses this grittiness to push forward in her work as a bail enforcement officer (bounty hunter). The reader can see her struggling with trying to define herself, as well as process many of the recent goings-on in her life, all of which enriches her as a character and pushes the narrative of the story forward effectively. Others tend to complement Jinx effectively and pursue their own growth throughout this book. The attentive reader will recognise Shea Stevens from Kelleher’s other popular series, watching as she returns to the page and has some growth of her own. I will admit that I have often sought writers who have multiple popular series to blend their characters, if only for a book or two. Kelleher does this effectively and the reader can see the clash of gritty, strong women, which seems to work well. The story proves to be strong and keeps the reader intrigued, as Jinx debates her own future before making a push to help a fellow trans, finding new connections through the Athena group during the narrative’s build. With a mix of longer and short chapters, the reader will easily be able to propel themselves forward, learning much about Phoenix and the way in which many live while under the conservative umbrella of the city’s inhabitants. I hope there is more to come from Kelleher with both series, as they work so well together and keep me on my toes, posing the boundaries of what I would usually read.
Kudos, Madam Kelleher, for another winner. I can count on you showing your great writing style each time I pick up one of your pieces.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons