UK author Mike Carey launched a new series with The Devil You Know, which sees him visiting territory that is very familiar to him considering his past writing credits, including The Girl With The Gifts as well as the comic series Lucifer, and Constantine. He treads the realm of the supernatural noir easily in a a book that takes on some dark subject matter to parallel some of the darkest things any gumshoe has encountered.
Felix Castor is an exorcist, after a fashion. It seems the world he lives in is not that unlike our own, except for the fact that things we classify as paranormal, ghosts, demons, loup-garou are taken for granted and exist. In short, they walk among us. Felix helps to clear them out, through some techniques that are very much his own.
When he needs to make some cash to keep a roof over his head, he takes what he thinks will be an easy clean and sweep. A ghost has been haunting an archive hall, and for some reason she has become violent. Castor is given one assignment, clear her out, exorcise her, send her wherever he sends ousted spirits (something that may be explored in future novels as the world-building continues?).
Instead he does something he’s not actually supposed to do. Get involved. From there he finds not only the dark underside of humanity, but demonic forces at work, as he encounters monsters both human and other. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but despite its supernatural trappings he deals with some truly dark material that is all too real.
Written in the first person, in true Sam Spade style, we are treated to an inner monologue that is filled with funny asides even as Castor illustrates how truly screwed up things are in his life, and that he’s the cause of most of them, intentionally or not.
The mystery plays out in an engaging way, and the answers are there all the time, it’s not some reveal from out of left field, it makes sense, it connects, and it opens up a world that Castor is going to continue to explore in future novels I expect with his new, and rather interesting partner along for the ride.
And while it’s not scary, per se, the story does deal with some horrific elements, and I love how Carey ties things altogether, and introduces the ghosts that haunt this story. Once I was hooked on it, this book flew by, and I look forward to continuing the series in the very near future.
Have you read them? A word of caution to younger readers, this is very heavy material wrapped up in paranormal phenomena, and could be troubling. But I do like the way Carey doles out his story.
Please sir, can I have some more?