THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Mike Carey
“Exorcism is both more and less than a job. You do it because it’s something you can do, and because once you’ve started, there’s something about it that doesn’t let you stop. But, in the long run, it gets to you.”
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie (AUG 12, 2009)
The Devil You Know, is a wonderfully entertaining, chilling, thriller. The novel abounds with otherworldly creatures – demons, ghosts, zombies, and lycanthropes, (loup-garou). The Devil himself, or one of his high ranking minions, even makes a brief appearance. However, some of Carey’s human characters are so evil that the supernatural seem charming by comparison. What makes the novel really unique is the humor. Felix, (Fix), Castor is one of the wittiest protagonists I have come across in a long while.
Castor is a hard-boiled but very sympathetic freelance exorcist/ghostbuster. London is his stomping ground. His business card reads “F. Castor Eradications.” Fix, as his friends call him, is down on his luck and owes his landlady mucho back rent. Landlady PEN, aka Pamela Elisa Bruckner, lives in a three story inverted penthouse – the penthouse is underground – and the monstrosity of a house has been in her family for eons, literally. She is a Wiccan Priestess and has been a close friend of Castor’s since college days. PEN needs money badly, and, since Fix is semi-retired as an exorcist, she gets him a gig doing magic tricks at a boy’s birthday party – not REAL magic, just the usual well-performed stage magic. Unfortunately he fails to collect his loot when his final trick goes wrong and the parents of the birthday boy throw him out. So, now it’s back to ghostbusting. However, Castor is traumatized by the thought of returning to his God-given vocation. About a year ago he accidentally wove a demon into his friend Rafi’s soul. Rafi and his demon now reside in a facility for the violent criminally insane.
The primary tool Castor uses in his trade is a whistle, a Clarke original, Key of D, (“the saddest chord”). He plays music on his tin whistle to bind and banish spirits. And naturally, he takes it everywhere. The whistle is for him what a gun is for a cop. He accepts a lucrative job to exorcise a ghost from the Bonnington Archive, a museum which holds priceless archival material from all over the world. The more Fix learns about this ghost, a transparent woman dressed in white with the top portion of her face veiled in red, the more he wants to learn about her and the circumstances behind her death before condemning her spirit to never-neverland. Her appearances have become increasingly more violent, to the point where a staff member is injured. Unlike many, Fix is a very ethical exorcist, and, at times, the truth means more than closing his eyes, doing the job and collecting the money. Sounds hokey, but the author makes it work.
Complications arise when a sleazy pimp named Damjohn shows up with his loup-garou and threaten Castor to back off. This is when Fix realizes that there is more to the sinister situation than meets the eye, especially when Damjohn sends a killer succubus to eat his soul. The mystery, tension and sense of doom heighten as it appears that one or more members of the museum’s staff are involved in a variety of crimes.
This is no predictable paranormal mystery. The mystery(s) is extremely difficult to solve, and takes primary place over the otherworldy action. A sinister, shadowy and really scary air permeate the novel. The authors writing style is taut and the pace is fast. His exotic characters, the human and not so human, are wonderfully conceived and at times outrageous. Carey’s descriptions are very creative and often funny – which provide a break from all the heavy stuff.
The Devil You Know is the first in the Felix Castor series. Although this is his first foray into fiction, author Mike Carey is the highly successful comic book writer who created the critically acclaimed Vertigo series Lucifer, which garnered numerous international awards and was nominated for five Eisners. I can’t wait to read the sequel.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 50 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Grand Central Publishing (June 1, 2008)|
|REVIEWER:||Jana L. Perskie|
|AMAZON PAGE:||The Devil You Know|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Wikipedia page on Mike Carey
Official website with blog
Publisher site on Felix Castor series
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Read our review of anothert Felix Castor novel:
More ghost hunting sleuths:
Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart
Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
- The Devil You Know (2007)
- Vicious Circle (2008)
- Dead Men’s Boots (July 2009)
- Thicker Than Water (March 2009)
- The Naming of the Beasts (September 2009)