Bad Spirits is the opening novella in DV Berkom’s Kate Jones thriller series. The eponymous heroine, Kate, has run away from her former paramour Roberto Salazar. The catch is that Salazar is the leader of a Mexican drug cartel, and Kate has run off with a large bag full of his money.
As you’d expect from this genre, Bad Spirits is action packed. You’ll find gun fights, explosions, night time raids, and daring escapes aplenty and DV Berkom keeps the action moving at a rapid pace.
Kate herself seems to be a solid character. She’s reliant on her wits and quick thinking, rather than any superior skills that are far too common in the genre, she manages to elude her pursuers by the skin of her teeth. It’s refreshing to see her making several bad decisions throughout the action, leading to dire consequences for her and those around her. I don’t think it would be unfair to Kate to describe her as a lucky, rather than skilled, survivor.
The secondary characters that Kate meets seem to fly past, often to a grisly end, before we get to delve into their back stories. This means that they have a tendency to appear more as caricatures than fleshed out living people, but Berkom takes care to introduce each as their own person.
The story certainly relies on some cliches and whilst normally this would be a sticking point for me it helps the pace of the action. The archetypes of the evil mexican drug lord, the corrupt Hawaiian shirt wearing DEA agent and the mysterious old man with a cryptic message all appear in the story. Leaning on these stereotypes leaves the author more time to dedicate to the action and racing the plot forward than getting bogged down in back stories and motives.
That the Kate Jones series is so popular is no surprise. You get exactly what you are expecting: relentless, unabashed action. There are no complexities in Bad Spirits, no moral quandries, no depth of thought, but it doesn’t try to be deep and meaningful. Bad Spirits tries to be fun.
This is a far cry from my normal reading material, I don’t hide my preference for epic and lengthy fantasy works, and yet I really enjoyed reading it. While growing up, my family used the term “beach-reading” to describe a book that didn’t have depth or substance and that’s exactly true of this. It might be “beach-reading”, but it’s good “beach-reading”. It’s fast paced fun and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the Kate Jones series. This earns Bad Spirits a very credible 6/10. Bad Spirits is pure escapism and Berkom knows how to do it well.
Reviewed by PD Richmond
You can download the ebook of Bad Spirits for FREE
I’m also delighted to say that DV Berkom will be taking part in our Featured Friday segment and her interview will be live in February 2017.