Fuck Up My Brain? Please?

Shooting Scars - 'Karina Halle'
The path of the righteous man woman is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

- Jules Winnfield

And Ellie Watt had to learn that the hard way.

I just wish I could quote the rest of Jules' Ezekiel 25:17 for Bold Tricks because I kinda love how that ends.

I feel like the last kid to have gone on the craziest ride of the month and everyone's already told everyone else what's awesome about it and I'm left with the generic IT WAS AMAZING! (It's all caps and I placed it in bold, that must count for some creativity, right?)

Shooting Scars picks up immediately after the end of Sins & Needles, when Ellie left with Javier to ensure the safety of Camden and his family. Told in alternating POVs, Ellie finds herself back in her old path of vengeance, this time as Javier's pawn to exacting his own retribution against Travis Raines while Camden finds himself aligning with the unlikeliest of allies as he races against the pursuit of his present hells and the lure of Ellie's seductive past to get her back.

So there's car chases, gun fights, people's faces exploding, deception, tension, orange grove sex (you can never go wrong with ascorbic acid), angst and that dark, unexpected humor that makes me wonder what IS inside Sophia's suitcase.

If there's anything I took away from the Karina Halle Experience it's that you can set your story in the dirtiest Mexican desert and incorporate the most heinous crime organization you can come up with, you can attempt to write dirty sex with the best frou-frou words you can think of, you can shove in as many gunfights, torture scenes and explosions… but it will just come across as laughable cheap imitation without character depth and complexity. 

Something that this series has in spades.

In a flaw-off between Ellie, Camden and Javier, you'd be hard pressed to pinpoint the most screwed up in the bunch. If you're looking for characters that you can relate to, or connect emotionally with, this might be a tough sell. I mean, let's be realistic, who can read about a con artist who got punished for the sins of her parents and is caught between the path of vengeance and self-redemption so many times and say "I can relate to that"? In the way that you can relate to the person having a hard time choosing what brand of cereal they'd be getting in the supermarket? 

No, we are drawn to the story of these three people, to the mistakes that they make, the insane lengths they go to because the drone and monotony of the day to day can kill your brain just as well as any bullet. So we pick up these kinds of books to ask, so very nicely, to fuck our minds up to keep it healthy.

Even if Ellie, did tip the mindfuck scale to the "dangerous for my own heart" end of the spectrum a little too often here. In S&N she came across as someone whose well-being I didn't need to keep an eye out for because, in my mind, that woman can handle anything. She's hard-boiled with a tenacity forged out of cruelty and hatred, she'd laugh at my compassion, right in the face. Here it's a bit strange to see her in that position where she seems to be drifting any which way the whims of either men would take her. I'm not used to seeing her vulnerability out in the open and I am quite ready to see her take the reins again instead of being the one reined in. Because while the struggle between the desperate need to be redeemed in her own eyes and the lustful lure of revenge was interesting, Camden and Javier stole the show by providing in vivid detail what both ends of the spectrum entails. 

Everyone of my friends know how enamored I am of GaelJavier… yeah, still enamored. Listen, I'm just happy he really is as crazy, manipulative, evil as he was made out to be. I like it when people deliver on their promise. A thug who chose the thug life with obsessive tendencies, penchant for vengeance and a warped moral and honor code? Am I insane to want that motherchucker to survive to the very end? Is the world really better off with him in it? 


"You're a sacrifice," he went on smoothly. "I'm sacrificing you."
"For the greater good," I said snidely.
"Except there's no good here. This is for us. The greater us."

Did anyone who watched The Godfather rejoiced righteously when Sonny Corleone got killed in that tollgate? 

I'm one of those Team Javier members that never really hated Camden. I love Camden. He's one of the most unique heroes I've come across. He wore make-up in high school, he was abused by his father, everyone thought he was gay… and he came out this tattooed, hot piece of man who still gets duped, chumped and fooled by every one. 


"I'm so fucking tired of being shit on."

That's my favorite quote in the book.You can't possibly find another hero from that mold… he IS the prototype. 

The Artist Trilogy isn't one for the faint of heart, not for those who likes to sit in the comforts provided by the mass produced tropes and cookie-cutter stereotypes that leads you to believe white is white, black is black and the gray area is just limited to fifty shades. But if you think about it, you're sitting in the comforts of your couch, lying in the warmth of your bed… what's so bad about giving the acrid taste of hyper-reality a shot? Where's the fun in reading about two people falling in love in the most auspicious circumstances when one isn't even conning/using/pawning off/trying to kill the other? What's a little adrenaline in your coffee? 

As dear Jules ever so aptly asked...

Then I don't really see any excuse in reading this review instead of the book.

Review Copy provided by the author.