It’s no secret I’m a big fan of supernatural crime-noir stories, or the quirky cross-genre offerings of the Dog Star imprint, so picking up Matt Betts’ Indelible Ink was an easy choice. Harder, was putting it down. Betts’ writing is fresh and fast-paced, and so dead-on accurate you might think he’d once been a teenage girl. Indelible Ink’s key character is twenty-something teen, Deena Riordan, a cross between Dexter and The Hulk, although somewhat prettier. An elusive ink stain Deena’s arm, imbues her with some darkly supernatural powers that she struggles to control. To hide from her past sins, she and her sister Harper, accept crime lord Marsh’s offer of shelter in return for work, but after years of doing his bidding, Deena realises she has to break free. Compelled to act on her basest impulses, she’s become a killing machine. Only, Marsh doesn’t want to let her go, sending his second-best assassin Morgan (along with a bunch of minions) to bring Deena back into the fold. Oh, did I mention there’s a secret government agency after her, too? On the run, Deena battles to survive, while coming to terms with the frightening evolution of her affliction. Naturally, the body count is impressive. An action-packed roller coaster of a tale, Indelible Ink romps through kidnap, confusion, and betrayal, hurtling towards that final rumble between rival assassins where more than a little blood will be spilled. Both assassins are blessed with twisted and screwy backstories ‒ with Morgan’s especially vibrant, told using a canny flashback technique ‒ but there are plenty of unanswered questions to be teased out in future volumes of this top-notch series. Can’t wait for the next one.
Blurb: Something lurks inside Deena Riordan. She never once questioned her life in the criminal underworld as the star of Mr. Marsh’s illegal empire and his youngest assassin. Her ruthless demeanor and dark magical powers have kept her at the top of the heap for years. But one day she pushes the sorcery too far and something snaps. Only then does Deena realize she’s always been a puppet of that dark power with no true will of her own.
Now, in order to get out of the crime business for good, she needs to save her sister from Marsh’s angry clutches. It won’t be easy. She’ll have to make her way through friends turned foes, dodge determined federal agents, and stay out of a particularly stubborn fellow hitman’s sights. Worst of all, Deena will have to wrestle with the darkness inside to keep it from swallowing her up again.