Thankfully, I already have a review copy of The Devil's Evidence so I don't have to wait to jump right back into this world. This was a truly interesting read - I saw several references to it and a lot of praise given to it and I saw it going cheap excellent copy second hand so why not, and I must admit I wasn't disappointed. The book basically is a detective novel set in Hell - and this is not the stylised version you see in some books where supernatural and the incredible walk side by side and its the "mundane" that is the odd one out- no this is where harsh realities and petty injustices carry on day and night sl This was a truly interesting read - I saw several references to it and a lot of praise given to it and I saw it going cheap excellent copy second hand so why not, and I must admit I wasn't disappointed.
The book basically is a detective novel set in Hell - and this is not the stylised version you see in some books where supernatural and the incredible walk side by side and its the "mundane" that is the odd one out- no this is where harsh realities and petty injustices carry on day and night slowly destroying you spirit and will while the world around you carries on all too familiar. So is it a gritty detective story yes it is - is it a supernatural adventure with weird and wonderful characters and environments yes it is and is it some sort of character piece where we see the thoughts and workings of a simple man in an extraordinary situation - most certainly.
However this book is more than just the sum of its parts. So reading this book I realise now after finishing it that its what you want it to be. You can take away from it all sorts of different stories and I suspect if were to read it again I would see something totally new and unexpected each time. This is a clever if depressing book to read at times however know that soon there will be sequel I suddenly see hope for Thomas Fool and I think that too many people thought they knew the man and made him in to their tool - now I want to see if he will be played a second time and that I guess is every authors dream - to get their readers eager for their next creation.
We meet Thomas Fool, he is an information man. The conditions are truly terrible, there is damnation around every corner and the only hope of escape is to be elevated by the Angels, a random happening that has no rhyme nor reason. Thomas investigates crime. Sort of. Mostly he stamps things and sends them back but suddenly a murder occurs that must seemingly be actually solved.
Thus starts a real awakening for Thomas and a truly rip roaring and often scary adventure for us. Descriptively speaking you will definitely feel the heat — there is a devilishly twisted landscape to be found with surprises everywhere, magnificently twisted creatures inhabiting every corner and an ever ebbing and flowing landscape brought to vivid horrific life. Then there are some really really great characters.
I adored Fool, the way he talked himself in and out of things without really understanding why, falling from one moment to another, developing friendships almost unheard of questioning the law not always a good idea but ending up absolutely determined to do his job. For a tale such as this there is a lot of emotion to be had there I was gutted at some of the things that happened and mad as, well, hell, about others the character arcs are utterly gripping and very original. It is a heady mix of crime, horror and fantasy — not easy to pull off but done elegantly here — I wouldnt really like to put a label on it at all.
We have an enigmatically drawn mystery, a true horror movie feel alongside an almost urban fantasy. Hell may be Hell but there is a lot of worldly comparisons to be made, the demons aside or maybe not who knows what lurks in our shadows? I loved it. The only thing now is, will there be more? I want more. When I first heard of this book, I found the idea of a detective in Hell irresistible and had to give this a try. In Hell it is best not to be noticed, but Fool finds that he is destined to be noticed by far too many and that means danger.
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In this When I first heard of this book, I found the idea of a detective in Hell irresistible and had to give this a try. In this debut novel, the author paints an intriguing portrait of the underworld. Yes, much of it is how you imagine. There are demons — lots of them — and men are very much second class citizens. However, times have changed and mankind are now plucked from limbo, given bodies and spend their time in a joyless and dangerous place, with no memory of why they ended up there.
Hell is, in some ways, presented as a ruined and dangerous city. Mankind is reduced to suffer endless physical toil or as the playthings of the demons. For, Hell, like Heaven, has its own Bureaucracy. Fool has to answer to the demon, Rhakshasas, and to the human representative, Elderflower.
Charged with babysitting the Heavenly visitors; in Hell to choose some of the Sorrowful for Elevation it is possible, although unlikely, to either be one of the Fallen from the Heavens, or to Elevate into Paradise , Fool finds himself given the feather of an Angel and it becomes a prized possession. However, that too is noticed. You cannot help but feel our hero is being toyed with throughout this novel and I really hope that this book has a sequel or, even better, continues into a series.
A realistic, unusual and interesting crime novel with an imaginative and realistic setting.
Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review. Sep 06, Bandit rated it really liked it. Was Dante the first author to take his readers on a fictional trip to the underworld? I'm actually not sure, but since then many have followed the suit and served up their own takes on the destination.
Unsworth chose quite a famous setting for his debut novel, much to live up to, much to compare with His vision is bleak, horrific, visceral, frighteningly realistic and stark. Absolutely wild imagination and creativity and so strikingly vivid. He has Was Dante the first author to take his readers on a fictional trip to the underworld? He has a way with words and imagery that creates an uncomfortably authentic, fascinating, atmospheric universe with such well thought out logistics and schematics The eponymous detective, the moral man in an immoral place, is a terrific protagonist and, though I'm normally not into series, sequels or any such milking off the original, this lead and this story certainly can use further exploring.
This isn't for everyone and possibly too dark for some it's easy to imagine a casual mystery fan attracted by the premise checking this out and fleeing screaming in terror , but for serious seasoned genre fans this is a real treat. Feb 20, Karl rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-bought. Noir in hell. This is not your grandmothers hell either. This is unrelenting pain, suffering and sadness. We get a degree view of hell. How the souls from limbo enter the suffering bodies, the constant fear of demons and the relentless death. Unsworth has crafted a unique vision with this volume.
Surely not for those easily offended. Mar 25, Frank Errington rated it really liked it. Review copy Angels, demons, humans, Hell and a series of murders.
Regardless of whether you believe in a literal Hell or not, The Devil's Detective will give your imagination a strenuous work-out. Simon Kurt Unsworth's debut novel introduces us to Thomas Fool, an Information Man, a detective of sorts who is tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding a series of unusual deaths.
Fool is one of three investigators with specific rights laid out in The Information Man's Guide to the Rules Review copy Angels, demons, humans, Hell and a series of murders. There's been no training for this job. It's strictly learn as you go. In addition to the ongoing investigations there is a small group of emissaries from Heaven who have come to Hell tasked with Elevating a number of humans to Heaven. Selection is random, it's not like you get time off from eternal damnation for good behavior.
The author has done an amazing job of world building and I can promise you, this is not the Hell you may be used to. To say The Devil's Detective is different would be a major understatement. This is not the light-hearted, fun, Hell of a Sandman Slim novel, and it's certainly not a religious treatise on the subject, but The Devil's Detective is definitely a compulsive read.
Available in hardcover, paperback and a variety of ebook formats, The Devil's Detective is published by Doubleday. Not for everyone, but recommended, particularly if you are feeling adventurous. Apr 29, Paul rated it really liked it. Really 3. Murders are occurring in Hell, what a surprise. However what is shocking is this particular set of murders where the souls are being devoured is being investigated by information man Thomas Fool.
Not a fun, happy novel, but then again I guess only the reader is to blame if they expect a novel set in hell to be sunshine and lollipops. Unsworth does an admirable job world building and setting the reader in hell with Fool and given the location there is no shortage of suspects in the Really 3. Unsworth does an admirable job world building and setting the reader in hell with Fool and given the location there is no shortage of suspects in the mystery.
Although calling this a mystery kind of short changes the novel as it is a mystery, literary thriller and existential novel for the 21st century. Another reviewer commented on the repetition of Fool throughout and I echo his critique in that sense, otherwise a very strong book. Jan 28, Chris Berko rated it liked it.
Five stars for the setting and the author's descriptive ability, two stars for the story because I guessed the ending within the first twenty pages. There were some really cool scenes throughout and definitely a lot of originality but it never really came together for me and it seemed like a bunch of short stories rather than a cohesive whole. I really liked the main character and for that I'll probably buy book two but not right away. One big gripe is that it seemed like the author overused the Five stars for the setting and the author's descriptive ability, two stars for the story because I guessed the ending within the first twenty pages.
One big gripe is that it seemed like the author overused the phrase "smelled like charred skin and burnt hair", I get it was set in hell and a lot of it probably smells like that but every other page had that description seemed like and it got pretty old IMO. Feb 05, Skip rated it it was ok Shelves: crime-detective. Set in a version of hell, where hopelessness is the operative word, this detective story focuses on the efforts of an "Information Man" named Thomas Fool to hunt down a killer wreaking havoc on humans while angering demons as he kills off several in his investigation.
Fool is also tasked with escorting a delegation from Heaven for negotiations to determine which residents will be elevated or lowered. The investigation lacks a clear sense of direction or focus, with Fool blundering into leads. Go Set in a version of hell, where hopelessness is the operative word, this detective story focuses on the efforts of an "Information Man" named Thomas Fool to hunt down a killer wreaking havoc on humans while angering demons as he kills off several in his investigation.
Jul 19, K. Charles added it Shelves: detective , horror. Wow, that was bleak. A detective novel set in Hell: I sort of anticipated Johannes Cabal type comedy or maybe Sandman Slim all guns blazing, but this was more existential utter misery, with crime solving. Which is fair enough but not exactly fun. It's a meaty book in its way, if you're in a mood for horror and if you want a cry of existential agony with crime solving and disembowelment, it beats Scandinoir.
Couple of oddities: really weird overuse of proper names in dialogue, like multiple times a sentence at points, which I couldn't decide to be intentional or otherwise. And all the sinners in Hell were white. Endless refs to pink flesh, no other kinds exist. As erasure goes, I suppose being hideously tortured in hell is the kind of thing one might prefer to be erased from, but it really did become incredibly obvious.
Weird book. I think I need a romance now. Because there is no real justice in Hell, of course, and most crimes are simply the natural order of things — demons murdering humans and what not. Instead, the damned human tenants are forced to work terrible jobs, the best of which seems to be factory worker, while the demon bureaucracy rules over all. Said tenants have been stripped of their memories of the past, and so, the real torture is being forced to labor meaninglessly for eternity.
Things are terrible in Hell. Instead of the usual demon murders, where humans are butchered and have their life energy fed on by demons, these murders are so brutal that the humans in question are actually being absolved of their sins and sent to Heaven — because their pain is so great it cleanses their souls.
Fool, angry at the murders, finally starts to grow a backbone, and with his fellow Information Men, Gordie and Summer, actually investigates the murders. He consults a strange being known as The Man of Plants and Flowers, who gives him clues — but not long after he does, the demon bureaucracy calls Fool and tells him to investigate The Man. Because his strange existence makes them nervous. So Fool has two missions: find the murderer and investigate The Man to keep his demon overlords happy. Finally, to top everything off, the humans of Hell begin to riot and fight back against the demons, using Fool as their inspiration, and during one of these riots, Fool and Summer end up chasing the thing they believe responsible for the murders.
And Summer, who manages to pull ahead of Fool in the chase, is brutally killed by it. And when he finally realizes the obvious answer that has been sitting in front of him for the entire book, he…comes to the wrong conclusion. When Fool and Balthazar confront him and he reveals the truth, Adam Falls and becomes a demon. Balthazar and Fool fight the new demon, but Balthazar is killed.
Fool manages to barely, barely defeat the new Fallen and finally bring his murder to case to a close. Because apparently, that is the next evolution of eternal suffering. So Fool has been played as a fool the entire book. And Elderflower might or might not be Satan. And things still suck, and everybody is miserable.
The End. Firstly, I enjoyed the creativity of the world building. It painted a fresh and interesting picture of Hell as a place and a punishment, and I thought the odd bureaucratic organization of it all gave it a unique flavor — a strange mix of order and chaos that built a great backdrop for a murder mystery plot. I think the world building was probably my favorite part of this book, simply because it was well done, consistent, and reasonably original.
That being said, I found many aspects of the book lacking. While I did like the variety of characters in the book, a lot them fell a little flat for me due to a lack of characterization and development. The story stayed a little too close to Fool, and, as a result, many of the other characters stayed somewhat one-dimensional throughout, which led to deaths and revelations not holding much emotional weight for me. Secondly, I thought the pacing of the story was a bit off.
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It dragged on for a while with very little in the way of twists or major developments, and then, all at once, things rapidly picked up and barreled toward the action-packed conclusion. If the pace been faster in the beginning, I would have enjoyed the story more — it took a little too long to pick up for my tastes. Third, I struggled with the writing style. The prose felt stilted to me, the language too formal and unemotional; it made for a very strange contrast with the actual content of the book, filled with strong negative emotions and ultra-violence.
Finally, I found the conclusion frustrating. These endings are a slap in the face to that expectation, and they deconstruct your typical ideas of how a book should end. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this one. There was a lot to like, what with the rich world building and all, but I felt it needed some work with its plot, pacing, and characterization. A fine debut, for sure, but it does fall short in some respects.
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He and two colleagues are sent to investigate crime committed in hell, whilst most of it is ignored a recent spate of murders has got the attention of hell's elite who are keen for Thomas to solve it at any cost. Who is killing these young men and feasting on their souls, something powerful and old and not something that Thomas was expecting to find in hell.
As he continues to dig out the truth he sets the wheels in motion on an uprising of hell's tormented souls who see him as a hero. There is immense world building in this novel, so much so that at times it was difficult to get my head around so much information and put all the pieces of it together. I liked the bleak, noirish feel to the story although it was perhaps too bleak with no portions that were lighter to balance it out. A minor quibble as once I got into the 2nd half I greedily consumed chapters to get to the end of the story and the mystery.
I liked Thomas Fool although it also felt in a way that we only got to know a small amount about him, I would have liked to have known why he was in hell but part of the story is that no one knows why they are in hell. Although he felt a little one dimensional in the first third, I think he grew as a character once he started to be more confident in his role as an Information Man. I'd be keen to see where the author takes his character in the next book.
Due to the bleak and depressing story I can't say this book was 'enjoyable' but it was an excellent thriller, well written, fast paced and a superb 1st book in what I hope will be an ongoing series. Aug 05, Leah Polcar rated it it was amazing Shelves: audio-book , read , demons , horror-aficionados-reading-cha , detective. This review refers to the audiobook version. Solid 4. See Kemper's once again excellent review if you need detailed information: Kemper's Review. However, if you are not so inclined to fully peruse others' thoughts, and wish to hear what I think, then I will sum-up: 1 The world-building here is extraordinary; 2 The concept is brilliant; 3 The characters are well-developed and the plot keeps one engaged This review refers to the audiobook version.
However, if you are not so inclined to fully peruse others' thoughts, and wish to hear what I think, then I will sum-up: 1 The world-building here is extraordinary; 2 The concept is brilliant; 3 The characters are well-developed and the plot keeps one engaged despite Unsworth's attention to detail see 1. Why only 4. Well, this is properly a detective, or a whodunit of some type, and the who-did-it was fairly obvious early on.
Therefore, the revelation of the culprit was tedious and long-winded. David Rintool, our narrator, was superb. His voicing for various characters was spot on and he lent amazing depth to the character of Elderflower -- which only added to the delight of the exposure of Elderflower's true nature during the epilogue. Highly recommended. View all 5 comments. They say, "he who sups with the Devil should eat with a long spoon. His debut novel The Devils Detective is one of those books, that if you believed in such things, was penned by a writer who had made a deal with the devil.
Thomas Fool is an Information man, one of Hell's special brand of Detectives a man who, up until he is given the call to investigate a brutal de They say, "he who sups with the Devil should eat with a long spoon. Thomas Fool is an Information man, one of Hell's special brand of Detectives a man who, up until he is given the call to investigate a brutal death, which sees the victim's soul become totally and utterly destroyed, feels as though he is just going through the motions, more of a yes man than an information man.
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But there is something about this murder that worms his way into his mind. Fool is determined to solve the crime, no matter who or what he upsets. He doesn't care who takes notice of him, or how much attention he draws to himself and his fellow investigators. And as we all know that may not be the best thing to do in Hell. The Devil's Detective is a is a richly detailed novel that brims with inventive ideas and clever ambitious writing.
Unsworth's version of Hell has been painted with exquisitely detailed strokes. Rather than going with the standard vision of Hell, this personal hell has a more of a feudal feel. It has its own towns and cities, some are grand, some are slum ghettos, hell, some are even red light districts, where humans and devils walk the same streets.
At times while reading the novel it almost felt as though we were walking in the same lands as those from the classic computer game Ultima. However, it is not just the lands that are painted with great detail. Unsworth has gone to great lengths to ensure the lands of hell feel real, much of this is thanks to his descriptions of the class system of the lands. A system that sees the humans at the bottom of a bureaucratic hellhole. Everyone in Hell has to answer to someone. There is a brilliant scene near the start of the book, where the Devils to whom Fool reports to, have a system whereby they chose who gets to interrogate the corpse.
Unsworth's description of this stupid bureaucracy is worthy of anything ever used in Yes Prime Minister. It says a great deal about the level of Unsworth's writing when the world building and sense of awe and wonder that can be found in this book far outstrips that found in a novel from a real master of the genre. This is Thomas Fool's story and as such the main thrust of character development is kept for our intrepid detective.
Fool's journey from a somewhat nervous and insecure cipher to a man on a mission is handled with great care and attention, which makes for a very strong lead character. The supplementary characters are not as richly detailed which is a pity, as I would loved to have read more about Elderflower. The Devil's Detective has the capability to be a real breakout novel, one of those rare breeds of a horror novel that manages to escape from the genre and appeal to much wider audience.
The balance between the genre trappings and tropes of both horror and crime is perfectly balanced. While some may see the revelation of the story before our intrepid detective this is nevertheless an accomplished crime story. I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. First thing first: if you're looking for nice things, Happy Ever Afters and something else than bleak prospects, this is not the book for you.
But the fact it's set in Hell, only in Hell and nowhere else, makes this fact kind of obvious anyway. Thomas Fool is one of Hell's few "Information Men", meant to investigate crimes yet knowing that whatever the outcome, it won't matter. Whether murderers get punished or not doesn't ma I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Whether murderers get punished or not doesn't matter, whether people die or not doesn't matter—it's Hell, and it's nonsense, and the whole nonsense of it bears down upon every inhabitant, even the demons themselves.
There are rules to follow, and all of Hell's prisoners do, in the flimsy hope of being Elevated someday, freed and sent to Heaven, following a process of selection whose rules themselves are all but logical. Joy and hope? Of course there is: so that they can be better quashed. It was sometimes a little difficult to make up my mind about this novel, as some of its defects also contribute to making its strengths.
The characters in general are sort of bleak, unremarkable, lost within an investigation that doesn't really seem important, like puppets stringed around while being totally aware of what they are. It was somewhat tedious at times, yet it fit pretty well into the Hell setting, into its "why bother" atmosphere.
I would not necessarily care for what happened to whom, yet at the same time, I did, because it reinforced the feeling of a twisted structure here. Hell's descriptions were vivid and made it easy to picture what Fool and his partners had to go through, as gruesome and malevolent as both places and inhabitants were. In the beginning, I expected more; later, it didn't feel so important, as what was described became enough for me to form my own vision of Hell, and adding more would've actually been too much.
Dialogues were definitely of the weak sort, especially because of the various repetitions and name-dropping. For instance, one character kept calling Fool "Thomas" several times in the span of a few sentences only, and this happened more than just once of twice. Fool's and some others' lines were also often reduced to "Yes" or "No", and those became quickly annoying.
Another issue: guessing who the perp was. Way, way too easy. Granted, their investigations often fell into the "Did Not Investigate" category Hell made it so that it was pointless for them to investigate most crimes in general , and I guess one could say they weren't "used" to doing it, but It was still annoying when Fool openly admitted to himself not understanding something that should've been obvious. The reader doesn't get hammered with God and Satan, and has to make their own idea of whether this would truly be a kind of Hell for them.
The whole concept of afterlife is one that has enabled most of the major religions of the world to hold people in their thrall. The dichotomy of sin and virtue has proven to be a much more effective manipulative mechanism than war, torture or bribery. Repeatedly tell a large group of people that you will be boiled, tortured and roasted in the netherworld and they start dreaming up a place so horrid that they keep a wide berth from everything that is named as sin in their belief systems.
This beg The whole concept of afterlife is one that has enabled most of the major religions of the world to hold people in their thrall. This begs the question, is Hell a static place? Will the so called nefarious denizens be torturing away souls for all of eternity? Humanity has worked hard at converting sins to art forms over the centuries and it would only be natural that Hell would keep up with it. Simon Kurt Unsworth thinks so too in his story for he creates a version of Hell which robs a human soul of its last desperate thread : hope.
This is a murder mystery set in Hell! Now how ironic is that? In a place which is supposedly ruled by chaos, what difference would one murder make? It seems that even in the most hopeless of places, there exists a semblance of order and discipline. This is how we get introduced to Thomas Fool who is one of three information men in Hell who are charged with investigating and reporting crimes.
Fool has a thankless job for no one really cares whether these are solved or not. Egged on by his superior — the enigmatic elderflower he goes around trying to do the best he can which at most times is next to nothing. Hell is a horrendous place and let me explain why. If you are unlucky, you will forever be one tiny drop in a vast ocean of damned souls which lie beyond the most extreme walls of Hell.
Your soul is in limbo and it just floats about without any notion as to why it is there in the first place. A few souls from this sea might get picked and finally given a shape and form and yet much more horrid fates await them in Hell. Such a human being might either be a nameless worker in the giant factories or a sex toy for the perverse demons of the land. In either case, the human being has no knowledge of what it did to have ended up here. This existence lasts for ever and ever with no change in sight but only for one single difference.
Once in while across eons come a delegation from Heaven which brings with it a final chance of redemption. A random group of souls might be picked for elevation which stirs up resentment among the others. Amidst all this noise is when a murderer strikes among the human populace gruesomely and it is up to the overworked Thomas Fool to solve these. As a whodunit the story is pretty average.
If you had read a fair share of mysteries, it is quite obvious to you who the murderer is. But the skill of the author is such that he subtly shifts focus to the environment in Hell and how it changes over the course of the story. Thomas Fool is so full of self-loathing that he comes across more as a reluctant observer than a hero. Barring a bit of predictability in the climax, this is a fantastic setting for an average story.
Mar 06, Deborah rated it it was ok Shelves: own , netgalley. It's not that the writing was bad; The Devil's Detective is better written than many other thrillers and horror novels I have read and enjoyed. It's not that the story was boring or poorly plotted; despite one significant plot hole view spoiler [ if all that is needed to send a soul directly to Heaven is a sufficiently violent death, surely at least some prior deaths caused As a fan of both horror and thrillers, I really wanted to like Simon Kurt Unsworth's The Devil's Detective , but I didn't.
It's not that the story was boring or poorly plotted; despite one significant plot hole view spoiler [ if all that is needed to send a soul directly to Heaven is a sufficiently violent death, surely at least some prior deaths caused by demons would have led to the same result? There were, however, three things which destroyed any enjoyment I might otherwise have gotten from reading The Devil's Detective. First, I was immediately put off by Unsworth's decision to name his protagonist "Thomas Fool," a choice which distanced me from the character.
Because he is almost always addressed by his last name, I felt beaten over the head by the implication that the supposed hero was actually a fool: not in the archetypal sense of one who seeks to live life joyfully in the moment, but rather as one who is stupid, lacking judgment or intellect. Fool's character should have been sympathetic, aligning as he does more closely with the seeker archetype; he is loyal, honest and fair with those less fortunate, and committed to the concept of justice in a place not known for that value, but his name just kept getting in the way.
Second, Unsworth has an extremely irritating habit of giving Fool a uniformly demeaning self-image. For example, Fool thinks of himself as "Little spinning Fool," "little Fool dog," and "Little mesmerized Fool" - and that's in the prologue alone.
Third, the Hell inhabited by Fool is an unremittingly bleak place. Yes, I know Hell isn't supposed to be pleasant, but I was dismayed by its entire premise: the souls of sinning humans are pulled from Limbo, clothed in flesh, and thrust into Hell with no knowledge of the sins which put them there and, therefore, no way to confess or atone for them. Souls are elevated from Hell to Heaven at the whim of negotiations between angels and Hell's bureaucrats. This conception of Hell simply is contrary to my belief in God's loving nature and His desire that all souls be saved, making it impossible for me to accept, even temporarily, the world Unsworth created.
If, as Fool concludes, he is "simply another speck grinding within [Hell's] huge and grotesque wheels," why should I waste my time caring about him? I recognize that my third objection is very personal and that many other readers may not react as negatively. Unfortunately, notwithstanding Unsworth's fine story-telling skills, I cannot recommend The Devil's Detective. Jan 22, The Bookend Family rated it it was amazing.
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She went to the librarian, book in hand, and asked for something similar. The librarian suggested Gone Girl. Now Gone Girl is a great book, but for a fan of Agatha Christie, it is probably a bit too much to handle. What else can you expect from a book set in Hell? The job of an Information Man is rather like that of a detective, except that in Hell nobody really expects justice, or anything remotely like it.
They all play pivotal roles in the book, along with the two other Information Men, Summer, and her lover, Geordie.
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They are all well-drawn characters, and are all, to an extent, sympathetic. Unsworth is almost scarily imaginative once again, appropriate for a book set in Hell , and his vision of Hell and its inhabitants, particularly one called The Man of Plants and Flowers, is startling and original. The brutality of the book, though, and its dark tone take some getting used to. Early on, I felt like the darkness was going to overwhelm me, but if you hang in there, the payoff is very worth it.
I am not over-exaggerating here. Some of the scenes, and not just of the murders, are stunningly brutal. At first the light is dim, but by halfway through this novel I was hooked. For a series of murders to be brutal by even the standards of Hell was a tall order, but Mr. Unsworth pulls it off. In my reading life I have come across a lot of Hells, but Mr. I have to give it Mr. Thomas Fool is an Information Man of Hell, who catalogs all committed crimes, but rarely has the opportunity to investigate them.
Even when he does and solves the crime, the perpetrator is never punished because, of course, it is a demon. But, one day he is tasked to solve a brutal murder of young man whose soul was devoured. As the murders continue, previously apathetic man starts to change and hope, that forbidden fruit of Hell, starts to wake in his heart. And the Hell changes with him.
What Thomas Fool is an Information Man of Hell, who catalogs all committed crimes, but rarely has the opportunity to investigate them. What follows is a police procedural in Hell. Unsworth's Hell lacks fire and brimstone. That is the Hell of the past. After they have been fished out of Limbo, they don't remember their sins and don't know how to atone for them.
Hope is additional mean of torture because occasionally some of them would be Elevated - freed from Hell. But that happens without rhyme or reason - one cannot earn the Elevation. The work they do is almost always meaningless, the banality of their existence continual. The novel is peppered with interesting characters: The Man of Plants and Flowers, Elderflower, Fool's colleagues, members of Heaven's delegation - angels Adam and Balthazar, But, it is Fool that you follow and root for, increasingly so as the story progresses. You are caught in his awakening and fooled see what I did there?
In this story of a luckless man swindled out of borrowed money and reaching out to Harlem cops Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson to help him get it back, the police are depicted almost as a criminal gang themselves—a concept shocking in the s, though less so in the modern age. When a rich girl gets sucked into the junkie life and goes missing, who better to look for her than Joe, who could use the money and certainly knows the neighborhood. Finding himself in the corrupt, barren town of Personville called Poisonville by the residents , the Op is backed into a corner by rival gangs, friendless and framed.
He has to use his wits to set his enemies against each other—and his talent for violence as well. He escapes, undergoes plastic surgery to evade the police, and dives into the underworld to find the true killer, spiraling downward into desperation. Macdonald The first Travis McGee novel all of them color-coded for your convenience introduces a young McGee, a character who will age naturally over the course of twenty-one novels and two decades. McGee represents an evolution of the noir detective, shedding much of the dark, grim loneliness in favor of a more hedonistic enjoyment of his bachelorhood, even as he finds himself constantly enmeshed in the plots of psychopaths like Junior Allen, the superficially charming thief, murderer, and rapist seeking a buried treasure in this first adventure.
While his wife is away, Allis is to tend to the garden and his needs—but from their first meeting an uneasy relationship threatens to explode into something terrible. Eddie Coyle is an aging criminal caught between dying in prison and ratting out a connected associate. The Bride Wore Black , by Cornell Woolrich Inverting the usual noir paradigm, Woolrich puts us in the head of the titular bride, a woman who methodically and clinically assumes various identities specifically to murder a man, leaving behind mystified police.
Altered Carbon , by Richard K. Morgan Science fiction often crossbreeds with other genres, but rarely as perfectly as in this cyberpunk story of a future where sleeving in and out of bodies is common—and complicated. Quartet is as cynical and bloody as the first three, introducing LAPD lieutenant Dave Klein, who paid for law school by doing work for the mob.
As is typical in classic noir stories, Klein is smart and capable, but finds himself dragged into a conflict out of his control, because when no one plays it straight, how can you trust anyone? In a Lonely Place , by Dorothy B. Claiming to be a writer in order to have an excuse to not have a job, Dix offers to help a detective friend named Brub hunt down a serial killer.
That survival might cost them the most fundamental bonds people can have with each other, and Thompson once again implies that this is us— all of us—at our core. A Simple Plan , by Scott B. Smith One of the key elements of noir is the erosion of trust and affection when money—or survival—is introduced. The plan is indeed simple, but fails to take into account the chance and randomness of the universe.
Strangers On a Train , by Patricia Highsmith Patricia Highsmith is perhaps the only author on this list who could challenge Jim Thompson for sheer bleakness when it comes to her view of human nature. Nick Corey is a lazy small-town sheriff with no greater goal than to indulge his appetites and stay the course, cheating on his shrewish wife and ignoring her mentally slow brother. But Cady comes to realize that his decision to bring the girl along has doomed them both.
Savage Season , by Joe R. Lansdale Lansdale introduces his characters Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, two middle-aged nobodies who work bottom-feeder jobs. He agrees to help a high-class hooker get out of the life, and is surprised when her pimp seems resigned to her retirement. The brutality is endless and unforgiving, and rendered in painful detail. Confidential L.