Take Harry Dresden from the uber-popular Dresden Files series and put him in a ‘sleaze’ novel from the late 1960’s (ala my recently reviewed Man From O.R.G.Y. series) and you get something akin to Hex-Rated by Jason Ridler.
It’s the 1970’s and James Brimstone is a newly licensed Private Investigator in Los Angeles. Brimstone was at one time a child magician and a soldier in Korea. He’s tough and has an amazing charisma – such that every woman wants to sleep with him and those that do will swear that he’s the best lover they’ve ever had. And to top it off, he’s got some supernatural skills which makes him impervious to a lot of otherwise potential damage.
In his first official job, Brimstone takes on a case of an actress whose face is horribly scarred and she begs for his help. He can tell there’s something supernatural behind this and that he’s the right man for the job.
In general, I liked the pulp feel to this book, and the ‘sleaze’ aspect is right in line with those ‘sleaze’ books from the 60’s that I’ve read. But…
The protagonist is too perfect (by his own admission) and too unlikeable. He’s a P.I. about to start investigating some supernatural elements, but we never feel he’s in danger, then this book had better be about the mystery and the search. But it’s not. It’s about Brimstone and his awesomeness and his clever repartee. And his sexual escapades.
Sex in books is nothing new, but the written sex here is down and dirty, described in full, sweaty detail and of course Brimstone is super great and he leaves women in an absolute trance, swearing he’s the best ever.
He’ll go into a big one-on-one battle – the climax of the book – but is it much of a climax when you already know he can’t really be hurt?
The world-building is … eh. We don’t ever really learn anything about Brimstone’s abilities or why he has them. We don’t understand this world of the 70’s with magic and supernatural creatures. Why is it this way? Where is everything coming from? It seems to play a major part in the plot, but we’re never given much background on it.
This works if you’re just looking for some pulp-like action, dialog, and sex. But if you want a solid, urban fantasy, there are many better choices out there.
Looking for a good book? Hex-Rated by Jason Ridler doesn’t quite fit the bill.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Jason Ridler
series: Brimstone Files #1
publisher: Night Shade
paperback, 292 pages