Review: Known Devil by Justin Gustainis (4/5)

A Fresh Take on a Favourite Genre

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to read this. I typically don’t jump in part way through a series. More importantly, I have read a lot of supernatural crime in the past year and didn’t want something that would feel stale. I was, however, jonesing for something fresh in the genre.

Achievement unlocked.

Known Devil brings something new to a genre that I have come to love. Justin Gustainis has taken well-worn supernatural tropes (vampires, werewolves, witches), bound them up with procedural crime and created a fresh series for us to enjoy.

Known Devil from Angry Robot

Known Devil from Angry Robot

May I Suggest A Little Tarantino To Start?

I absolutely loved the first chapter. Loved. Loved. Loved.

The story begins with our cop protagonist and his partner taking a late night coffee (and blood) break at Jerry’s diner, when a pair of misfit elves stage a robbery. It felt like that wonderful opening scene in Pulp Fiction. The parallel wasn’t ham-handed or distracting. It was subtle (perhaps even unintentional) and smart.

I was completely immersed and enjoyed every second of it.

I really liked most everything about this book. I cared about the characters, even though I felt like I should have known them a bit better (problem with jumping in part way through a series), the plot was solid, although I would have liked to have seen more consequences for the choices our protagonist made near the end. The final resolution felt a bit deus ex machina, even though there was groundwork laid for it early on. A little more foreshadowing would have made it less jarring for me.

The only other (very slight) issue I have is a suggestion that the author let go and be a little more trusting. Trust the reader to pick up the crumbs and fill in the blanks, rather than giving us every detail or reminding us things a few pages later. Trust the story to carry the reader through those spots where he may be tempted to insert that little clarification or reminder. It’s not a huge deal if I find myself thinking “didn’t we learn that a couple of pages ago”, but I still stopped to think.

Known Devil is a welcome, fresh and enjoyable addition to the supernatural crime shelf in my library. I have been happily hooked on Occult Crimes Investigations, so I ask Mr. Gustainis to get to work on the next books while I go back and read Hard Spell and Evil Dark.

3 comments

  1. I have the first two of these books, but keep reading other things first. :/

    1. I feel that pain. So many things in my TBR pile and then I see something shiny.

      1. Pretty much!

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