My Review of HeX-Rated by Jason Ridler

hexA couple of weeks back, Brian Keene mentioned Jason Ridler’s HeX-Rated in his newsletter, calling it one of the smartest, fun, transcendent pulp novels he’d read in a long, long time.

I happened to be a quarter of the way into my read of the pdf ARC Nightshade Books sent me when I received Brian’s newsletter.

I’ve always had a deep respect for Keene’s opinions, especially regarding genre matters. One of my fondest memories was a long talk he and I shared mostly centered around our mutual appreciation of Manly Wade Wellman.

He knows his occult detectives.

His full blurb for this Brimstone Files Novel reads, “Jason Ridler’s HEX-RATED is deliciously uncomfortable, wonderfully gritty, and a worthy successor to the occult detectives of old.” — Brian Keene – Bestselling author of THE COMPLEX and PRESSURE

High praise, indeed, but what did I think?

This was my first experience reading Jason Ridler’s work. I understand he’s published a number of crime novels and his experience shows.

Here’s an excerpt from the back cover copy — “After attending his mentor’s funeral, Brimstone signs his first client: Nico, a beautiful actress with a face full of scars and an unbelievable story of sex, demons, and violence on the set of a pornographic film in the San Fernando Valley. The cops chalk it up to a bad trip from a lost soul, but Brimstone knows better.”

Sounds like something right up my alley, no?

I found HeX-Rated fast paced, clever, and a great example of world-building. I loved the diverse and complicated supporting characters throughout and found the magic and lore to be consistent and handled deftly .

An occult detective story, however, lives and dies by the main protagonist.

James Brimstone, an ex-carny and Korean War vet, is a newly licensed P.I. in 1970 Hollyweird. Ridler really makes the era come alive with just enough pop-culture references to keep us old folks happy, though the allusion to Alan Moore seemed out of place and a couple of decades early.

If there’s a fault here it lies in the fact that Brimstone seems a tad too progressive, too modern thinking. I think it would have played better, had been more immersive, if Brimstone felt more connected to the era he was navigating.

That being said, I loved the book and certainly look forward to future installments in the series.

If you’re a fan of the occult detective genre, Ridler’s Brimstone skews more toward Harry Dresden than John Thunstone, but it has everything you should be looking for in a supernatural-drenched thriller.

And that cover art is sweet.

HeX-Rated: A Brimstone Files Novel by Jason Ridler will be available August 1st, but you can pre-order it today on Amazon. I highly recommend you do so.

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2 Responses to “My Review of HeX-Rated by Jason Ridler”

  1. What’s he trying to stop, “mystic forces” or porn? is he even the good guy here? ;-)

    • I should have added this to the review:

      A salacious throwback to the detective pulps of the 70s, Hex-Rated kicks off the new urban fantasy series the Brimstone Files.

      Fall, 1970. Los Angeles has always been a den of danger and bliss, but even darker tidings brew in the City of Angels. Cults, magic, and the supernatural are leaking into the worlds of glamour and dives of the gutter. To the spectators walking down Hollywood Blvd, it’s just more proof that La La Land is over the cuckoo’s nest. But to former child magician and Korean veteran turned newly-licensed private investigator James Brimstone, it means business is picking up.

      After attending his mentor’s funeral, Brimstone signs his first client: Nico, a beautiful actress with a face full of scars and an unbelievable story of sex, demons, and violence on the set of a pornographic film in the San Fernando Valley. The cops chalk it up to a bad trip from a lost soul, but Brimstone knows better.

      He takes the case, but the investigation goes haywire as he encounters Hell’s Angels, a lost book of Japanese erotica, and a new enemy whose powers may fill the streets of L.A. with blood. He’ll have to us his Carney wits, magic tricks, and a whole lotta charm to make it out of a world that is becoming . . . Hex-Rated.

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