There have been many, many books read by yours truly. Some were good, some were bad. A few were truly terrible, but a few were truly spectacular.
I want to share with you some of those. Now a lot of these truly spectacular books will fall outside of the genre of urban fantasy. This isn't because I don't love urban fantasy. It's just that I am pulling from my entire reading career which at this point spans almost 37 years. Yes, I have been reading for almost FOUR DECADES. So let's get started.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton- Stay Gold Ponyboy, Stay Gold. I found this book in the eighth grade and I read it once or twice a year every year through the end of high school. It is such a great book. I read a lot of S. E. Hinton and the rest of her stuff was hit or miss. None of it captured the pure essence that is The Outsiders. It's not often that a movie adaptation is as true to the source material as this one was. The book and the movie are both classic must haves. And, just FYI, I was totally a greaser.
The Light At The End by John Skipp and Craig Spector- This book was the absolute first urban fantasy I ever read. I was 16 or so when it came out. It was a horror book, but it follows a kid in modern day New York (circa 1986) who is bitten and turned into a vampire. His friends then hunt him down. It is EXCELLENT. I really recommend it, even if it might be a tad bit dated. Let me put it this way. I have owned the same copy I first read and carried it with me through many, many moves over the last 26 years.
Bury Me Deep by Harold Q. Masur- One of the first “hardboiled” detective novels I ever read. I use quotation marks because the main character isn't a detective at all, he's Scott Jordan, attorney. Truthfully I picked this up from my aunt's bag of yard sale books because there was a naked lady, sorry a naked dame, painted on the cover. I read it and fell in love. I carried that same copy from 1947 until it disappeared on me. My wonderful wife found it and re-bought it for me. It is still one of the best hardboiled books I have ever read. You want authentic 1947 detective fiction then go find this and buy it.
Flood by Andrew Vachss- The first book of the Burke series. These books go past hardboiled and into a dark, revenge driven place. Burke is a great character who is surrounded by a cast as far out as the cast of my book. This one is a bit dated, taking place in an obvious 80's NYC, but a great book and a great series.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby- Yes this was an awesome movie with John Cusack. One of my personal favorites. But the book man, well, the book is the most honest book about how men think that I have ever read. Seriously. Hornby really lays this character out in the open for you to dissect and it is a great read.
Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton- Oh wow. Now I picked up the Anita Blake series with this book and it was a helluva place to start. Obsidian Butterfly frequently tops most people's lists as the best Anita book of the series. I have to agree, but that may be because it was my introduction to a world and a character that I love. Laurell really writes a helluva book and anyone who gets paid to write urban fantasy today owes her a huge debt of gratitude. You can argue whether she was the first urban fantasy author if you want (my vote? Yes, she is the first modern urban fantasy author) but you cannot deny that she was the first author to make publishers realize that urban fantasy could sell. Still an amazing book. If you are the one person who hasn't read it then go out and pick it up. Like now.
And that is my list of my favorite books. I know a lot of them are not urban fantasy, but they are all books that I consider formative of my writing today. I learned a lot from them that I put into BLOOD AND BULLETS and the rest of the Deacon Chalk series. I hope you do check some of them out if you haven't ever read them. Feel free to hit me up and let me know what you thought of them too.
Book Description:BLOOD AND BULLETS: A Deacon Chalk Occult Bounty Hunter novel
Since hunting down the monster who took the lives of his wife and children five years ago, occult bounty-hunter Deacon Chalk has lived by only one rule.
He does not work for the monsters. He kills them.
So why would a vampire try to hire him as protection against another monster hunter? After enforcing his only rule Deacon goes to meet the target, a vampire slayer named Nyteblade. Professional courtesy demands he tell this Nyteblade the vampires are hiring people to kill him. Deacon finds the vampire slayer waiting in an alley.
Waiting to stake him.
He discovers that Nyteblade is a bumbling, fumbling, wanna-be instead of a badass vampire hunter. Someone who needs saving from monsters instead of the other way around. This is proven when a horde of vampires descend and he has to escape while trying to keep Nyteblade alive.
Someone has set Deacon up. Someone wants him dead.
Someone should have sent more vampires.
Bound and determined, Deacon will find out who tried to kill him no matter how many bloodsuckers, were-spiders, cursed immortals, undead strippers, or insanely powerful hell-bitches he has to wade through.
It's going to be a long night.
Release Date: February 7, 2012 from Kensington Books
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James R. Tuck is the author of the Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series from Kensington. Book one, BLOOD AND BULLETS will be available everywhere on February 7, 2012 and will be preceded by the e-novella THAT THING AT THE ZOO on January 12, 2012.
James is a former bouncer and has been a professional tattoo artist for over 15 years. His tattoo work has been published in national tattoo magazines and he owns Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga.
He lives near there with a wonderful wife, three wonderful children, and six dogs of varying degrees of wonderfulness.