The Devil’s Detective, by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Publisher: Ebury, Del Rey UK  |  Published 12th March 2015  |  Edition: Kindle, via Netgalley

“Welcome to Hell, sir,” Thomas Fool said…

“Welcome?” asked Adam lightly, “No, there is no welcome here, I would hope, but only the opposite, the knowledge of pain and suffering and the distant chance of redemption.”

The Devil's Detective

Even Hell has its laws and the rules have just been broken: Enter, The Devil’s Detective.

Imagine a realm where slithering, foetid demons reside with their subservient humans, and the latter are called upon to provide pleasure and receive pain.

If you can, then welcome to Hell, a vile sadistic place where the sorrowful humans that are fished from the waters of limbo have no memory of their past deeds, or a say in their future – they merely ‘exist’ in fear. They are set to work as labourers in the fields to harvest rotten food, or are made available in the brothels to satisfy the demons’ desires.

There are frequent attacks on the humans, yet the patrols of The Information Men are seemingly powerless to prevent them all. Thomas Fool is one of those men, receiving reports of new crimes. Most of which are stamped as “DNI” (do not investigate). This is a practice that is widely accepted as the norm, as there are too many crimes care about – and after all, isn’t Hell all about sufferance anyway..?

As part of his duties, Thomas meets and greets four of Heaven’s delegates, a host of Angels. They are powerful and intimidating creatures, who arrive for a meeting with the council to grant Elevation from Hell to the chosen few.

The Devils Detective DEL REY

JUST LOOK AT THESE BEAUTIES: Photo courtesy of Twitter: Via @DelReyUK

During their stay, the delegates discuss the names of the humans who may be released from their torment. As their negotiations are taking place, a heinous crime (even more heinous than normal) is committed. As an Information Man, Thomas is sent to investigate and gather more details. But he soon discovers that the crime committed against this human is more savage than anything he has witnessed before – and it’s not a case he can simply dismiss as a “DNI”.

As more murders are committed, the council set Thomas Fool the task of catching the culprit responsible. But no one is talking. Demons never tell the truth and humans fear for their lives. Soon he believes he’s being led a merry dance, or convinced he’s living up to his own name…

Being forced to grope in the dark to solve the murders I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, as he berates himself constantly. He affirms his lack of investigative experience in his own lowly and pathetic voice throughout the pages, you’ll often hear him think: ‘stupid little Fool’ and other similar insults, which he mutters to himself when he realises he’s getting either too confident, or just might be achieving something – either way it’s wrong to have positive thoughts in Hell, as suffering always comes first, doesn’t it?

The investigation progresses slowly, but he realises that something in this hellish place is beginning to shift, a shift that could affect them all, including Hell’s own ‘Fool’. The sorrowful, the collective name for the humans who dwell there, also feel this ripple of change, right down to the lowliest member of their condemned community.

This hellish crime story is told in four parts, which I devoured in two sittings (only because I HAD to sleep, or risk passing out).  There’s a generous helping of gore and horror, but not as much as I’d expected. And of course there’s a shed load of demonic entities roaming about for good measure. But come on, it is set in Hell after all and the writer’s done such a fine job of painting a wicked landscape for us to look at…

Will we hear more from The Devil’s Detective? I hope so, and SOON.

Rating: 4/5

(Many thanks to the publisher for providing the Kindle copy for review, via Netgalley (I’ve been waiting to read this book for sooooo long!)

You can follow the author on Twitter: @skunsworth | Publisher: @DelReyUK



The Blood Dimmed Tide, by Anthony Quinn

Publisher: No Exit Press | Publication date: 23rd October 2014 | Edition: Paperback

 Less than seventy miles away in France, men with grimy uniforms exhaled their final breaths in foxholes and filthy burrows, while back home lights were dimmed in sitting rooms as anxious relatives took up their listening posts…Ouija boards, moving tables, listening trumpets, mysterious lights, magic lanterns and crystal balls, all help the population confront its grief…

Blood immed Tide

There’s some cracking artwork on the cover of this unusual crime solving mystery.

Considering the amount of twists and turns in the storyline, you’d expect this book to be much larger than it is!

It’s steeped in Irish history and myth, and portrays the turmoil of the era. Every portion of it makes a play for all five senses (six, if you count the supernatural).

There’s murder, intrigue, rebellion, politics, secret societies, spies, marital disharmony and a bit of smuggling thrown in for good measure *pauses for breath here…*

Briefly, WB Yeats’ interest in the supernatural world is convincingly written into this story, as certain aspects from the reality of Yeats’ life were threaded throughout the pages. The famous poet sends his ghost-hunting understudy (and ex-medical student) to investigate the murder of a young woman, whose body had mysteriously washed up on a beach in Ireland, Yeats’ birthplace.

As the old saying goes ‘the plot thickens’. From the outset of the young man’s journey on the boat, a reoccurring theme accompanied his entire quest – he didn’t know what he’d let himself in for, and he had no idea who to trust.

The writer’s descriptions were phrased quite beautifully. I’d go as far to say that the style was quite calming to read.

Despite this, there were parts that I just found myself skimming rather than absorbing, just so I didn’t miss anything vital in the storyline. For some reason, I wasn’t as engaged with this book as I thought I would be, which surprised me as I do love a good mystery.

All in all I did find The Blood Dimmed Tide an enchanting and interesting read. It was well written and I’m glad I was given an opportunity to read it.

Rating: 3.5/5

(I must thank Oldcastle Books (No Exit Press) for this book, which I was lucky to win in a competition they ran.)

You can follow the writer on Twitter: @ajpquinn | Publisher: @noexitpress