Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Devil You Know (by Mike Carey)

Firstly, I thought I'd point out that this Devil You Know is the starting volume of the Felix Castor series of books by Mike Carey and should not be confused with other Devil You Know books - there's a lot with that title!

Anyway, sometime ago, I was looking through my local library for Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books, couldn't find any, and so had a look at this. I know Mike Carey's name from the Vertigo and X-Men comic books and the write-up on the back sounded interesting. And after the first few pages, I was hooked.

This is a great book and is easily in my top ten. In a similar vein to Dresden, the main character of this book - Felix Castor - is a freelance exorcist who is hired to remove a ghost from a London archive. Felix is like a modern day, English Marlowe; he's more of a wisecracking, tough psychic private detective than a priestly exorcist. The best bit about the book though is the way Carey mixes ghosts, zombies and were-creatures into modern-day Britain. These creatures definitely exist in this world, many people have seen them or know about them, and they are even recognized by the government - which, of course, causes a shed-load of legal issues.

This mystery/whodunnit/thriller/horror/urban fantasy novel seems to zip along and is very easy to read. Perhaps it helps that Carey is British (born in the Northwest but now in London) and writes with an English voice? The only slight criticism I'd have is that near the end there's a bit too much of an info dump as a lot of what's gone on before gets explained - a bit like the end of every Scooby Doo show. But that's a minor quibble; I'd certainly recommend this book, as it's one of the best I've read in a long time.

His second book in the series - Vicious Circle - is just as good as well and an excellent continuation of this Felix Castor series. I also just ordered the third book - Dead Men's Boots - from my library, so expect a review of that in the near future. There's also a fourth book (Thicker than Water) out and a fifth (The Naming of the Beasts) is on its way.

If you like urban fantasy books like the aforementioned "Harry Dresden" novels or Simon R Green's "Nightshade" series, then you'll definitely like this. Grade: Near Mint.

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