BOOK REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S DETECTIVE / AUTHOR: SIMON KURT UNSWORTH / PUBLISHER: DEL REY / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 10TH
The Devil’s Detective is the first book within a series and is Simon Kurt Unsworth’s debut novel. The essential idea is that it’s a noir-crime thriller set within Hell. The story follows the character Fool, who works as an ‘information man’, which is essentially a detective working in Hell. However, Fool doesn’t have to investigate much; with Hell being the place where demons prey on humans, there is a limited place for justice. When an unusual crime takes place, however, Fool investigates.
There is much to love here. The depiction of Hell is original, with it being less of a torture chamber and more of a place for continued hard work for the unworthy, and the world building is great. It was a bit confusing at the start, as the immediate reaction is to think Hell will be chaos overseen by the devil. However, it is far from this, and Unsworth does a great job of showing how Hell operates within this story. The story also contains some dark elements, which thankfully aren’t overused but are contained within the parameters of moving things forward.
However, although there are many characters, it would have been more appealing if the secondary ones, such as fellow information men and the bureaucratic council of devils, were further developed. This would allow for a higher degree of characterisation and would have resulted in readers caring more for the characters. The essential part of this novel is the mystery surrounding the killings, and without enough interaction with characters, this is less mysterious and more obvious. However, it still works, assuming the development of Fool was the main priority.
Overall, it’s a well written book with a decent plot. It’s a dark, twisting read full of original concepts, and is suitable for anyone wanting to get into fantasy with a supernatural element. Now that the main character is developed, hopefully the focus can shift in the follow up to fleshing out the secondary characters within the rich version of Hell Unsworth has created.
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