I am currently finishing up the final third of Mike Carey's first Felix Castor title, The Devil You Know and like most books that are not brand spanking new, I can't believe I've waited this long to begin this one.
The Devil You Know hit shelves in the UK in April 2006 (according to Amazon, but this is a PB listing so it could be that a hardcover came out prior to that date). Carey is a Brit, so it took a bit longer to hit shelves here in the States, but he made his hardcover debut here in July of the following year. And, book junkie that I am, I was not hiding under a rock -- I was aware of the release, but a bit skeptical. I mean I'm not (horror of horrors) a fan of The Exorcist and the cover art kind of implies something along those lines. However, the arc says this "...Mike Carey, who now makes his fiction debut with a brilliant, blackly comic story of ghosts, ghouls, and the silly bugger who hunts them." Much more my style.
So, if you have Exorcist issues like me, think more Constantine when you read this blog and you'll get something of a better idea. And no, my problem with the movie based on Blatty is not the creep factor.
Anyway, that out of the way, because I would hate for anyone to pass on this one like I initially did -- in my rambling defense, I did buy the book shortly after first coming across it, I just neglected to start it this long (shame, shame). But, book the third is hitting shelves here this summer and I thought it was about time for me to jump in.
In The Devil You Know, Felix Castor has been on sabbatical from the exorcism biz after an incident with a friend that left him (friend not Felix) sharing space with the demon Asmodeus. But, Felix is a bit broke and needs some cash to pay the rent, which prompts him to accept a gig exorcising a ghost currently haunting an archive in London. Asmodeus/Rafi warns Felix not to take the job, but beggars can't really be choosers, and Felix is a bit curious. Now, it should be said that Castor and pals live in a time when ghosts, zombies, and weres are, for reasons not totally explained, appearing quite frequently in the world. In fact, there are some who are even crying for spectral rights and such, which would severely impede Felix's job of banishing them from our world, not something he chooses to devote much thought to. But when the ghost in the archive saves him, he begins to believe that she warrants a little more investigation as far as identifying her and her reasons for haunting the archive in the first place. Felix's job is not made easy, however, because no one really counted on his looking into the matter. Plus, someone has a hit out on our dark hero and he's not sure who or what is behind it.
I really like this book. It's a traditional detective mystery wrapped in an urban fantasy setting and it works brilliantly paired with Carey's particular style. Not surprisingly, The Devil You Know earned a starred review in PW.
Devil is followed by Vicious Circle and the upcoming Dead Men's Boots. In the UK, book four, Thicker Than Water, has just been released and The Naming of the Beasts (book 5) is due out in September. You can check out more on this series and Carey's other work here.
If you enjoy darker, grittier mysteries, you are sure to love this series, even if you aren't necessarily a big fan of the urban fantasy movement (again, think Constantine). Similar series include Simon R. Green's Nightside series and Jim Butcher's Dresden series.