‘It’s knowing I can turn to you in dark times that keeps me going.’
By Grady Harp
Utah authors Roger Arsht and Caitlin Hawker join in their fascination (? obsession?) with horror in creating a novel that is far different from other dark literature. Not the usual paranormal, zombie, undead tale this: instead this is a story that blends animal abuse and human response in a manner that sends chills up the spine – and a few seeds for nightmares. And part of the terror is due to the polished skills of an English professor spelling out the tale with richly colorful prose, with just a pinch of dark humor to spice the brew.
From the first chapter we are privy to the dark nature of an animal compassionate veterinarian, Dr. Robyn Sparks, who deals with abused animals and acts of animal cruelty with a special sort of response – vengeance to the perpetrators. The flavor of the writing and the direction of the novel is offered to the reader in the opening chapter: a pit bull is brought in by a dogfight organizer named Blevins. ‘Robyn let out the breath she’d been holding, and secretly thanked any deity that would listen that Dougie hadn’t thought to look beneath the blood-soaked sheet draped across the bottom shelf of the operating table. Mr. Blevins had been dead for over an hour, but Robyn hadn’t been able to perform the last few necessary steps to dispose of his remains. She pulled back the corner of the sheet and admired her work. The skin around the corpse’s lips had turned from simply pale to a ghostly blue, and the scent of death hung heavily, almost tangibly, around it. Robyn pulled a pit bull size cadaver bag from a closet in the corner of the room and eyed it dubiously. There was no way that Blevins would fit inside, not with his gut. She tossed the bag back into the closet and bent over to get a larger one. The smile that creased Robyn’s face as she prepared to dismember Blevins would have chilled the blood of anyone unfortunate enough to witness it.’
A mark of a successful horror story is the wise use of romantic asides that allow the reader’s attention breathing room, space away from the blood bath for realism and relief – and when that space is also laced with quality humor and apropos language then the novel is a bona fide winner. That is exactly what Arsht and Hawker have accomplished – a challenging story about animal abuse, a no-holds-barred female veterinarian whose mission to exact revenge by appropriate vivisection and disposal of the perpetrator, and an introduction of a love interest n the form of a new client with an injured Corgi, the client just happens to be a detective with his own problems! The manner in which this set up proceeds to a decision between the veterinarian’s compulsion to destroy a psychopathic dog fight promoter or turn the other cheek and succumb to a law abiding detective provides one terrific challenging romance. There is as much philosophy about human need – good and bad – wrapped tightly into this web as you’re likely to find in any other book. A strangely bizarre and richly rewarding novel.
If You Love Dogs You’ll LOVE this Book! - I am Going to Buy a Copy and Give it to our Veterinarian!
By R. Scott Lorenz
If You Love Dogs You’ll LOVE this Book!
If you could stop people who participate in Dog Fighting would you? What exactly would you do?
In this page turning thriller you’ll meet a veterinarian gone vigilante. You’ll root for her as she takes down one dog fighting bad guy at a time.
Co-Authors Roger Arsht and Caitlin Hawker team together to tackle the horrors of dog fighting in She Bites a thriller that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. I thought I knew how bad dog fighting was but it's worse than I ever realized. The protagonist really takes it to the bad guys in ways one can only imagine.
If you love dogs you’ll LOVE this book. If you love cats or any animals you’ll LOVE this book.
Veterinarian Turned Vigilante Combats Dog Fighters – and Scares Readers!
By Pam G.
What animal lover hasn’t dreamed of revenge against an animal abuser?
She Bites, a dark thriller, explores this strange blending of compassion and revenge with the tale of Dr. Robyn Sparks, a canine veterinarian who has had enough with animal cruelty. After witnessing numerous accounts of it come across her operating table, especially from dog fighting, she determines to end it. Forever.
This vet-by-day, vigilante-by-night woman is first introduced to us covered in blood from her latest murder and trying to stuff the remains into a pit-bull sized bag for cremation.
The smile that creased Robyn’s face as she prepared to dismember Blevins would have chilled the blood of anyone unfortunate enough to witness it. After locking the door to the operating room, something she would never neglect to do again, she approached the corpse. “Trust me, Mr. Blevins, this won’t be pleasant. Well, not for you, anyway.”
Then police detective Jack Williams walks into her veterinarian office one day to get help for his hurt therapy dog, Lizzie. Jack’s vibrant green eyes catch the attention of Dr. Sparks, as does his compassion for his dog. This romance gives readers a bit of a break from the dark side of Sparks and becomes a thrill ride for the reader as we try to determine how the cop-dating-a-serial-killer romance is going to work out. Will Jack find out what Robyn truly is before it’s too late? Or will she kill him too?
Also mixed in with the noir are doses of humor, such as with the nosy, bossy Ms. Smyth-Anders, a client of Sparks: “...through the wonders of Botox, rhinoplasty, and chemical peels, she resembled an expressionless, twenty-one year old mutant…” and the police psychologist who texts under his desk while talking to his patients.
The novel is smoothly written and a page-turner, reminiscent of a James Patterson meets Steven King. Authors Roger Arsht and Caitlin Hawker blend their voices and talents to produce a book that will leave readers wanting more.
Arsht is a high school English teacher who first met Hawker while she was a student in his school. Remembering her dark fiction that horrified him and the other teachers, he looked her up years later to see if she wanted to collaborate on a book with him to give it a more horrific voice. She did and the match-up is perfect.
While a enjoyable (horrifying?) read, the book is also part social platform, rendering the awful side of dog fighting in terms that the reader won’t likely forget. The horrors of dog fighting are so brutal, I had to read those parts with my eyes half shut, so was thankful for the scenes with Lizzie, Jack’s therapy dog, and the other animals that added some warm fuzzies into an otherwise harsh world.
This book would appeal to readers of horror and thrillers, as well as any animal-lovers who would like to place a well-aimed kick into the behinds of animal abusers – preferably with a stiletto heel attached.
She Bites rewards the reader with a bit of justice, and leaves the question – how far would you go to stop something so brutal as dog fighting? This evil indulgence is a must-read for all dog lovers.