Friday, September 19, 2014

Reprise Review: Hard Bite / Anonymous-9

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime / Thriller

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
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Anonymous-9 is the pen name of Elaine Ash. She is a book editor and based in LA. For more information on Elaine visit her website.


Dean Drayhart is a paraplegic, badly hurt in a hit and run accident that killed his daughter. Dean and his monkey, Sid, now hunt down and take out drivers who kill. Unfortunately, their latest ‘victim’ is the beloved son of a gang boss. Whilst in parallel Detective Doug Coltson is finding bodies and investigating their demise. Queue the mother, her sons, and the police tracking Dean down. Who will get to him first?


My reading in recent years has focused on crime and thrillers and, increasingly, indie authors. The reason for this is that the smaller independents often champion the cause of quirky, groundbreaking plots. Hard Bite fits into this latter slot very comfortably.

So, what makes Hard Bite stick out?

First is the protagonist, Dean Drayhart – a serial killer (by his own definition, he looks it up in a police manual) and a cripple who doesn’t mind if his life ends because he doesn’t have one. Dean is largely confined to a wheel chair after being badly hurt in a hit and run accident that killed his daughter and ultimately drove (sorry) his wife away. And here is the motivation, Dean gets his revenge on as many hit and run drivers as he can before he’s caught or dies.

The next major difference is Dean’s partner in crime, a trained monkey called Sid. He’s effectively a pet that helps Dean around the home, driving etc, but he has an extra skill. Dean has taught Sid how to bite to varying degrees. ‘Hard Bite’ is a vicious ripping of the throat.

Then there’s Dean’s limited relationships. His girlfriend, Cinda,  is a prostitute. They have an odd partnership, unsurprising as nothing is ‘normal’ about either of them, but it works. And with his carer, Marcie, who mothers him. Other than that, Dean sees no-one.

I may have painted this as a farcical tale, far from it. In the hands of a lesser author it more than likely would have descended into stupidity, but Anonymous-9 kept it well on track. It’s pacey, gritty and a little tongue in cheek. The writing is sharp and to the point, there isn’t a great deal of exposition. Four of five very short flashbacks to illustrate Dean’s motivation, but that’s it.

The viewpoint shifts are interesting and well done, flipping from first person (Dean) to a couple of third person perspectives. The dialogue is excellent and the LA backdrop, from the seedy to the seductive, is clearly one the author knows.

I literally read Hard Bite in a day. I enjoyed it that much. The ending was fitting, with some redemption for Dean, and a proper close out but which left the door open sufficiently for a sequel. When it’s out I will be picking it up.


Adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

A tiny handful.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

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