Brutal Asset by John Conroe
Publisher’s Description: Partnered in an uneasy alliance with federal law enforcement, Chris Gordon has been hunting down the outlaw gang, Loki’s Spawn, who attacked his vampire girlfriend. But when he finds unexpected hostages who trigger his baser instincts, Chris is thrown into a search for answers to dark questions. How to control his inner demon, what do the Spawn want with children, and who is hunting him? His search takes him deep under the Big Apple, to the center of the Pentagon, and South of the US Border. All while learning the finer points of vampire politics.
Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).
Main characters: Chris Gordon is an ex-NYPD officer who is the epitome of super hero. He can do anything – strong – you name it he can do it. He’s athletic, wealthy, young, sexy, handsome and probably a great kisser for all I know. The only flaw that he has is that he can’t control “Grim” the other half of his nature. Tanya is a natural born vampire who has been put on a pedestal because of her natural born status. She also is beautiful, exotic, strong, clever, and beautiful…did I say that already?
World: Modern day, vampires and a “Men in Black” government agency type of atmosphere.
Story: The main plot is really just following Chris as he finds his way through life with extraordinary events along the way. I can’t say that the book was really believable – more along the lines of comic book literature. It was a good vs. evil story with lines clearly drawn. No hazy bad guy in this book. The bad guy is the bad guy period. With that in mind, I knew the hero would prevail, but the story line was not really predictable. It was not dull, however it did not nag me constantly to return to it once I put it down. The battle scenes were designed for those who love weapons. Makes, models and armament description galore.
Overall: I liked the fact that both main protagonists never had a problem with arrogance with the “ultimate power” detritus. They seemed pretty down to earth and willing to help the little people. There was some interesting descriptions of Native American beliefs that I enjoyed but really little else other than the standard good vs. evil.
Vagabond Vahn says…
I absorbed this book in one sitting. As with past entries in the series, it reads fast. Much as I did with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, I bear witness to the author John Conroe becoming more proficient and more comfortable with his characters and world with each entry in this series.
The Good: Perhaps it’s the testosterone in my system, but I find the Chris/Grim reactions to violence throughout the story extremely satisfying. Most of the novels I read have the hero/heroine being beaten down over the course of the story before finally overcoming their adversary at the end. This is a technique I refer to as the “Rocky Effect”, as it reminds me of the movies where Stallone is beaten up for an hour and ten minutes before coming back for the win. It is a pretty standard mechanic, but can get old after a while. It’s nice to see Chris/Grim and Tanya step in and kick ass without taking names. It’s hard to pull off, but John Conroe does it.
Chris has stopped saying “Ah” to open every other dialogue, and no longer calls himself a freak constantly. This is good, as a third entry of both of these things would have bothered me. The character of Barbiel provides some solid explanation for Chris’s abilities and hints at Tanya, though Chris still doesn’t seem quite ready to accept what we as readers already know. Hopefully that won’t last long.
The Bad: There weren’t any particular issues that stood out with this entry or bothered me on any significant level. I do find myself worried about the future of the series, however. I still find it refreshing that Chris is unstoppable. I find his triggers for Grim satisfying; but I worry that the as the series continues, the author will simply introduce more and more powerful villains to keep up and provide a challenge – villains who would achieve their goals if they just avoided New York. We’ll have to wait and see…
The Conclusion: Brutal Asset officially earns a 4! I was so close with Demon Driven, the previous entry, and am happy to find Conroe establishing a trend where each novel is better than the last. I hope this continues, as I can see this series taking a place on my shelves alongside the Dresden Files, Iron Druid Chronicles, and the Walker Papers. Read this series.
If you like this book…
- Chance in Hell (Chance Lee series) by Patrick Kampman
- Balance (The Divine series) by M.R. Forbes
- Red Moon Demon (Demon Lord series) by Morgan Blayde