The Jinx Ballou Bounty Hunter Series by Dharma Kelleher

LGBTQ fiction too often seems to fall into predictable categories — romance and coming out being the most common. What we never seem to get enough of is genre fiction featuring LGBTQ characters who are living their lives and doing their jobs in a way that is informed, but not defined, by their sexuality or gender identity.

Enter Jinx Ballou.

The hero of Dharma Kelleher’s Chaser is a bounty hunter. Tough, smart and determined to bring her quarry in no matter what it takes.

If it sounds like we’re in Jane Evanovich territory here, you’re right. Jinx owes something to Stephanie Plum and there’s even a thinly veiled nod to the New Jersey bounty hunter early in the book. But Jinx is tougher and grittier than Ms. Plum ever was.

Jinx leads her own team of hunters, having broken away from her boyfriend’s business when the pressures of working together and being in a relationship became too much. She has the respect of her male co-workers, a supportive family — and her hunky Irish boyfriend. When she’s not hunting down criminals, she likes to cos-play as Wonder Woman for local conventions.

But all that changes when an interview with a local newspaper goes bad and the reporter outs Jinx as trans. Suddenly the men don’t want to work with her, the bail bondsmen don’t want to hire her, and she’s in a jam. The only case she can find is a runaway teenager murder suspect, and that pursuit puts her in the sights of human traffickers, bigoted colleagues, and the local police. To survive, she has to smarter and tougher than all of them.

I enjoyed this book so much that I went straight on to the second book in the series.

With Book 2, the Jinx Ballou series really levels up. Book 1 is enjoyable and entertaining because Jinx herself is such a strong character, but Book 2 expands her world, developing her supporting cast, and giving Jinx even more depth and resonance.

In Extreme Prejudice, Jinx rises above just being a bounty hunter, to become a protector of her community and a champion of the vulnerable.

Together these two books are a strong start to what we can only hope will be a long-running series.

Both books are highly recommended.

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