The Devil by Ken Bruen

Out now from Transworld.

For a long long time I’ve been a big fan of books and movies where detectives or private eyes cross with the supernatural (more often than not with the Devil himself) whether it’s John Constantine or the fantastic Falling Angel/Angel Heart.

I’ve also been quite a fan of Ken Bruen’s great PI Jack Taylor novels, so when I read that Taylor looks like he may be finally facing his ultimate demon in this latest book, I was off and read it in, what the author would refer to as, jig time.

And I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Packed full of great references to previous man meets Satan media, such as books by Dennis Wheatley, a certain track by the Rolling Stones (the title of which ironically was chosen by Howard Marks for my previously reviewed book, this is a fantastic book in the straight talking style that Bruen does so well.

Taylor is growing increasingly mystified and concerned by mentions of a ‘Mr K’ or ‘Carl’ of whom people speak in hushed tones and who may just be the devil himself.  This appears to be running alongside other cases he is working on, such as a family cruelly verbally torturing a young downs syndrome girl, until a message is left in the form of someone he is close to being found with her heart removed, and then the black candles start to appear.

Alongside the mysterious ‘Mr K’ there is also the devil worshipping lead singer of rock group ‘The Devil’s Minions’ for him to contend with, who is intent on protecting the man or beast he sees as his master.

It’s a book that could almost have its own drinking game – I for one really wanted to share a Guinness and Jamesons with Jack Taylor at many a stage in the story.  It’s also full of great references to other crime novels and writers, cleverly working trips to charity shops for Jack to pick out some Daniel Woodrell for example or giving a list of required reading to a friend that includes many great Irish contemporaries. I was also really pleased to see that Cathi Unsworth received mention by Taylor for her journalism work (prior to becoming a great crime writer herself) for her reporting about satanist Anton La Vey.  It’s a book where fact and fiction blur really nicely.

Fans of Bruen’s other books will love the fact that at one point Taylor buys some bootleg dvds in a pub and includes London Boulevard in his purchases !

A great book, darker than I expected and it goes in the direction I doubted it would.

The cover states ‘Discover the author Hollywood loves!’ and The Devil would make a great movie – it would be wonderful to see PI Jack Taylor getting the cinematic treatment he deserves and this could be the book to do just that.

Keith

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