Friday, 26 August 2016

Dragon’s Blood (Black Planet #1) by Belinda McBride


Synopsis from Amazon:
San Francisco hasn’t been the same since the Great Shake of ’08. On the ruins of Fisherman’s Wharf, a ramshackle city rises like a mushroom, a strange dichotomy of safety and corruption. In this forbidden city, a monster prowls the corridors and alleys, seeking the nanite-enhanced flesh and blood of underground cage fighters. 

Detective Annie Tanaka once survived an encounter with the monster. The attack left her clinging to life and riddled with fear. Now the monster has returned, and he’s hunting in her territory. She’ll need every weapon in her arsenal to face this enemy and prevail. 

Unfortunately for Annie, her mentor, a legendary fight master, hasn’t been seen in decades, and her unwilling partner is next on the monster’s menu. Annie soon realizes her real enemy is not the monster, but her own fear. And against that fear, Annie must stand alone.

This work was previously released. Its been revised and re-edited. 


“I received a copy from the Author in return for an honest review…”

The setting is shocking, a San Francisco waterfront that makes the worst of our slums feel like an all-expenses-paid trip to the Hilton. And the heroine is terrified not of the environment but of the water, of a monster, of a creature she knows is death.

This is the Bay Area after the big one, slowly recovering section by section and ignoring those sections it hasn’t reached yet. The Wharf is one of those sections and Detective Annie Tanaka lives there. Her job is across the bay in the clean and rebuilt areas until it’s not; until she’s commissioned to go undercover into the Wharf’s seedy fight rings filled with nanite enhanced fighters to catch a killer, a monster, a nightmare from her past. And her entrée into that world?  Aiden Chen, her friend, her ex-partner, the one who blamed her for his wife’s death, the one who walked away from the force because of what he saw as betrayal.  Aiden who had himself enhanced and has been part of the illegal fight world since. Aiden who still hates her. Aiden whom she didn’t hate and never had.

The plot has all the markings of a strong, action-oriented urban fantasy – non-stop action, scenes of violence, all painted in shades of dark – but it is the characters that drive the story. Annie and Aiden move to resolve the past and, inevitably, towards a future together, towards the light. I really enjoyed it – you’ve got to admire an author who can successfully mix kung fu, tattoos, monsters, bonsai and love.  There’s an unexpected twist at the end that I suspect is primarily to set up forthcoming books.

Take note: there is an earlier version of this story out there under the title Black Planet: Dragon's Blood published in 2008 by Changeling Press.  I read it in paper back then and the story line is similar but the presentation is more polished showing the growth of the author. I would consider the changes significant enough to purchase this new version. I believe she will also be reworking and reissuing other entries in the Black Planet series over time.

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