Dead Man’s Deal
Harper Voyager / $11.98 print / $9.78 digital / May 7, 2013
In a gritty urban fantasy world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires swim free in a sea of humanity, sometimes you need an edge. Looking for a little love? Need some luck? Desperate for revenge? Gage can give you what you need. The most talented tattoo artist in town, he knows the right symbol and the right mix of ingredients and ink to achieve your heart's desire. One tattoo is all it takes. But remember, everything has its price.
The wizards know Gage is using forbidden magic, and they intend to punish him for his transgressions. Too bad if innocent humans and monsters—entire cities—get in the way. They will quell a nascent magical uprising and Gage will be the sacrifice they need. First, though, they have to find him.
Dead Man’s Deal is the second installment in a new urban fantasy series by bestselling author Jocelyn Drake and continues to engage. Similar to Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, the Asylum Tales centers around Gage Powell, a warlock whose personal life choices has left him persona non grata in the wizarding world.
Reluctant heroes are a favorite character type, and Dead Man's Deal's protagonist, Gage Powell, is the ultimate reluctant hero. The sole proprietor of the Asylum Tattoo Parlor, Gage is forced to live under strict conditions. Gage is a former apprentice warlock who didn’t agree with the cruel indicts of the warlock/witch community and escaped that world, only to find himself under a death sentence. His life is contingent upon his promise never to use his magic in any shape or form, except for self defense.
As Gage struggles to remain under their radar, his altruistic nature often places him on the path of no return. He is blessed (or cursed, depending on how you want to look at it), with a strong moral compass. He will fight to his last breath (which he has proven) to keep his friends and the world safe from injustice.
Fast pacing keeps the story moving at a brisk pace as the book expands upon the modern magical world and its characters set up in the first book. Once again, Gage finds himself stuck between saving himself—or saving his friends.
The course of events in Angel's Ink, the first book, has left Gage and his
friend and employee, Bronx, in the service of a dark elf mafia boss. When Gage is asked to provide protection for a drug house, his outrage at the methods used to make the drugs causes him to invoke a protection spell that gains him the support of a hobgoblin and some very thankful pixies. The dark elf’s displeasure over Gage’s manipulations manifests itself in a Machiavellian plan that forces Gage to return to the place he almost died to escape—the Towers.
“I chose to leave the Towers. I chose not to be a killer.”
Gage is an interesting protagonist; an essential loner, his time spent in the Tower showed he shouldn't lasting attachments to anyone, yet despite that, he has managed to gather a group of friends who mean the world to him. He has to keep a low profile, but is constantly placing his neck against the sword time and time again. A former warlock who is at the mercy of a council intent on erasing him, he has a natural altruistic nature that constantly pits him against various opposing factions. He only wants to be left alone, but Gage’s inability to say no to anyone whom he feels has been wronged is usually in conflict with his own agenda.
“It’s amazing what we will do for love.”
During the course of the book, Gage learns he has allies in the most unusual places, but that his greatest assets are his friends and associates. Though Gage feels he doesn't have many in his corner, he has more power guarding his back then he ever imagines.
Tears still streaked his cheeks, but there was a coldness in his eyes that made me glad he was on my side.
“We will end this.”
As Gage struggles to stay one step ahead of the Tower while fulfilling the multiple promises he's made, we find ourselves caught up and invested in the maelstrom that is the life of Gage Powell. The newest release in the series continues to be an whirlwind of action, intrigue, and suspense with a strong underlying base of hope, love, and humor to keep readers firmly engaged in this adventure. Readers of Jim Butcher and Simon R. Greene will definitely want to meet Jocelynn Drake’s newest reluctant hero.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Dead Man's Deal by Jocelynn Drake before its May 7 release: