Written by Anonymous-9 — Dean Drayhart is a paraplegic. He’s also a killer. A hit-and-run driver took his family from him and left him crippled, and he’s made it his mission to hunt down hit-and-run culprits and punish them for their crimes, in a very final way.
The first hit in Hard Bite is a man who ran down and killed a father of four, and Dean has an ingenious idea for getting rid of him. Dean has a trained assist monkey called Sid and while most handicapped people use a legitimate company to acquire their service animals, Dean went a slightly different route. While Sid is a big help to Dean, he has an independent streak and is more than a little mischievous. But, Dean happens to like this about Sid, and he’s taught him how to respond to certain commands, one of them being ‘hard bite’. The human jugular is no match for Sid’s sharp canines and it’s a swift and bloody death for this particular perpetrator. Luckily, his girlfriend Cinda, a prostitute with a heart of gold, has Dean’s back and while she doesn’t want details, she knows exactly what he’s up to. Dean doesn’t just use Sid to get the baddies, though. He’s got a van rigged for his particular needs, including a hydraulic lift in the back, and he’s not afraid to use it. It particularly comes in handy in the high canyons of LA. The bodies just roll right out, and those cliffs are awful steep.
After a couple of successful hits, Dean is flying high. He makes no bones about that fact that he enjoys what he does, and a generous disability cheque keeps his bills paid while he hands out his particular brand of justice. The only kink in his schedule is his stern-but-loving nurse Marcia Blattlatch, whose visits are necessary in order to keep the disability benefits coming. Dean soon begins looking for his next victim, using Craigslist and posing as a journalist writing about hit-and-run drivers, his anonymity is guaranteed. However, little does he know, police investigator Doug Coltson is closing in, and the man that he just murdered-by-monkey is the son of a dead drugs baron in the Mexican mafia, and momma ain’t happy. She had high hopes for her son. After all, her other two sons may be cold blooded killers, but this one was supposed to be a priest, and won’t the saints be so happy. She’s after Dean with a vengeance, and will stop at nothing to get revenge.
When I started Hard Bite, I knew that it was about a crippled man with a killer monkey, but I had no idea that it would be so clever, funny, and even heartbreaking. Dean’s passages are told in his own voice, and it bounces back and forth between his story, that of Doug Coltson, and Orella Malalinda, the mafia mom with serious anger issues. Dean reminds me a bit of Dexter Morgan, so if you’re a fan of that series, you’ll certainly like Hard Bite. Dean makes no bones about his condition, and his relationship with Cinda is actually very sweet and honest. In spite of his disabilities, he’s a very capable man, and his heart and soul are strong, even if his body isn’t. He’s very cognisant of his weaknesses and his own mortality which, in some ways, makes this book heart-wrenching, in spite of the plentiful black humour. Sid the monkey chews up every scene he’s in and is larger than life. Hard Bite is a noir tragicomedy with a lot of heart, and its exceedingly clever and sharp narrative will keep you riveted. My only complaint is that I wanted more. I can’t wait to see what’s next from this writer!
CFL Rating: 5 Stars