Robyn Sparks may be every animal-lover’s favorite vigilante. Compassionate veterinarian by day, she’s converts to animal activist at night and exacts punishment to the cruel men whose animals find their way across her surgical table in various conditions of burnt, broken, and bloody. Having seen enough, Sparks decides to make it stop. For good.
“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.” - Grady Harp, Top 100 Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
She Bites is one part social platform, and two parts horror. The reader doesn’t quite want to root for Robyn Sparks, who is first introduced to us dismembering a human corpse in her surgical office, and covered in the blood of her recent murder. But you find yourself rooting for her anyway, as the authors take you into the darkest side of dog fighting, revealing the horrors that the general public doesn’t know about.
“We toned it down a bit,” says Hawker. “We didn’t want to make people sick.” But most readers will need to squint their eyes as they read through a few scenes anyway.
“Robyn is a very dark super hero,” says Arsht “but if you said to us she was a super hero when we started writing the book we’d say no, she’s psychotic, she’s a sociopath, she’s a murderer. Then you get to the point later where you realize she’s indeed a super hero.”
When police detective Jack Williams walks into Sparks’ veterinarian office with his hurt therapy dog, Lizzie, the two connect. Jack, fighting his own demons from a case gone bad, is attracted to the vet who helps him with his beloved pet. Jack and Robyn recognize in each other the wounded look of an abused animal, and are perhaps drawn together because of it.
The tension created by the romantic relationship of cop dating serial killer lends another source of urgency to this book. Will she tell him what she does? Will he find out before she kills him too? Both are fascinating main characters.
“When Roger was talking about writing this book about a vet, I thought it would be interesting to pair the darkness of a psychopathic mind with the empathy that has to come of someone in the field of working with animals,” says Hawker, who has always been interesting in studying human psychology.
The book blends the voices of both authors in a seamless fashion. Written with the professionalism of a high school English Teacher (Arsht), paired with a self-proclaimed “dark” persona in Hawker, the book is a great read.
“Roger comes across as not being very dark, and he’s sort of just as dark as I am,” says Hawker. “He just hides it better!”
They duo started working together when Arsht approached Hawker about her dark side. “She was a student of mine in high school, about 10 years ago,” says Arsht. “What she wrote horrified me. I don’t think there was a teacher in high school or college that she didn’t horrify with her writing.” But Arsht also knew there was talent there, and looked her up years later. He asked her to add a different voice to the story he was already working on, A Slam Dunk, another book that discusses social injustice: the corruption and violence in professional sports and its athletes.
So Hawker added her voice and a collaboration was born.
She Bites is a dark read, but it’s interspersed with animals, such as Jack’s therapy dog and the various pets who come through Robyn’s clinic, giving it a touch of the warm fuzzies. There’s also some subtle humor, giving another fresh breather in an otherwise harsh world.
Arsht and Hawker visited numerous shelters and did a lot of research as well as hired a professional researcher to learn more about the world of dog fighting. What they learned horrified them. “It’s worse than you think,” says Hawker. Both are dog-lovers, and Arsht has been a volunteer for the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue for numerous years and has an adopted dog.
They hope this read will not only entertain readers, but also give insight into a cruel world that remains hidden enough that it still flourishes across the United States and the world.
“Dog fighting is a cruelty-for-profit industry.” – Matt Bershadker, President & CEO, ASPCA
She Bites, (ISBN 978-1-48082-221-4, 2015, Archway Publishing, paperback $15.99 and Kindle $3.99, 224 pages, available on Amazon orhttp://www.pumpkinnoir.com/
View the book trailer here: http://bit.ly/
About Roger Arsht
Roger Arsht is a mild-mannered high school English teacher by day, but dons his writerly cloak after class and pens the darker side of life. His noir thrillers ask some hard questions about corruption and violence in the world, and what to do about it.
Roger wrote his first novel A Slam Dunk, when, while watching sports, it became illogical to him that a man could don a uniform on Sunday and be a hero, then the rest of the week engage in illegal activities or violence. Knowing his book needed a darker element of writing, he contacted a former student of his, who was loaded with talent, but also horrified him with her scary stories. Caitlin Hawker stepped up to the job and a collaboration was born.
When he’s not writing or hanging out in high school (his favorite place to be,) Roger loves to fish, golf, travel and cook, not necessarily in that order. He and his wife have two grown sons, and live in Park City, Utah with their Golden Retriever rescue dog, Pumpkin.
About Caitlin Hawker
Caitlin Hawker is a self-described “dark” person who loves horror movies and the study of humanity’s darker side. It took her awhile to learn to read and write, until her dad described to her that letters were pictures, and then suddenly it all made sense. Now a prolific writer, she began penning noir fiction in high school, in typical dark, brooding teenager fashion, which scared her teachers. What was a hobby later turned into a career when Roger Arsht walked into the college bookstore where she was working and asked her to help him write a book.
When she isn’t writing, she makes costumes and dabbles in art. Caitlin is a connoisseur of all things weird, and loves to collect facts. Her latest discovery is that the last duel in France was with hot air balloons and shotguns, which ended up setting a field full of sheep on fire.
She and her husband live in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Caitlin is planning for the day when she can get a dog.
Media Contact: For a review copy of She Bites or to arrange an interview with Roger Arsht and Caitlin Hawker, contact Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications Book Marketing at email@example.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on twitter @abookpublicist
Excerpts from She Bites
The smile died on Dougie’s lips when he pushed open the operating room door. Robyn turned at the unexpected sound with questioning eyes as well as a few smudges of blood on her face. Her gloves were soaked, and her scrubs were so drenched that she looked like something from a slasher film.
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 todo again, she approached the corpse. “Trust me, Mr. Blevins, this won’t be pleasant. Well, not for you, anyway.”
Robin could tell the instinctual side of Jack knew to fear her, knew that he was seconds away from his death, yet something else fought that urge, forced him to meet her gaze dead on. That intrigued her, made the predator inside her long to break him and terrify him.
Robyn’s date was a burly man whose fake tan made him resemble a jaundiced Oompa-Loompa.
Jack awoke to the sound of Lizzie whining. She pawed at the sheets as he opened his eyes. He’d been dreaming again. The sheet beneath him was soaked with sweat, and the covers were on the floor in a knot.
It has been the same almost every night since his injury: the nightmares that he never could remember, the midnight rupturing of a healed wound, and the giant black hole in his memory. Everyone around him knew what had happened and yet no one would look him in the eye when he asked about it.
“And the dog?” Dr. Oliver lifted a piece of paper from the file, reading it intently. “He has a therapy animal, isn’t that right?”
“Lizzie’s more than a therapy dog, she’s the only friend he wants.”
Geraldine Smyth-Anders was no spring chicken, but through the wonders of Botox, rhinoplasty, and chemical peels, she resembled an expressionless, twenty-one year old mutant.
“That new officer found a dog burned in a dumpster. That wasn’t the first or only one. Chief, we are dealing with a dog fighting ring.”
Something primal inside Robyn rumbled with pleasure, burning in the strange, secret places that screamed for blood. The urge to shatter his skull tweaked at her nerves as strongly as an unfed heroin addiction.
For the first time in her career, Robyn felt fear spike through her as she found herself pinned between the metal door and the snarling, spitting face of a dog large enough to snap her in half.
They were hellish eyes, burning with an intense cold soullessness that made her feel foul and violated. But it was more than that; they were the eyes of the perfect predator, eyes that were far too familiar. They were the same ones she saw in the mirror every night.
Robyn Sparks is a veterinarian who is passionate about animals and dogs in particular. She spends her days taking care of those dogs after they have been brought in after having been injured by abuse and dog fights, which she abhors. At night she is a hunter of the people who abuse these animals and gives them the justice that they would not get in the courts if caught.
Police Detective Jack Williams has seen horrors of his own and is recovering from wounds he received from a serial child killer. Not only does he have physical wounds but psychological wounds as well after witnessing the killer kill a child. The only companion he can handle being around is the dog, Lizzie. that belonged to the murdered child. Jack meets Robyn the first time when Lizzie becomes ill.
Both of these people are tortured souls who need to heal. Can they together or will they be torn apart by what Robyn does? This story reminds me of the Dexter series, in that Robyn does terrible things but for the right reasons! Even though you could say that what she does is a crime, sometimes stopping the evil that people do to animals, is ok. The story takes on the real life topic of dog fighting and how terrible it really is. I really enjoyed the story and how the relationship between Jack and Robyn plays out. I would love to see this become a series!
I received a copy of the book for review purposes.