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The Devil You Know [Hardcover]

Mike Carey
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2007 Felix Castor
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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Aviolent ghost in a world where spirits are rarely mean-spirited is a clue to a deeper mystery in this engrossing dark fantasy debut from comics-writer Carey. Felix Fix Castor is an itinerant exorcist who (like a certain famous group of Hollywood ghost-evicters) alternates between dispatching spooks and doing stage magic at ungrateful children's birthday parties. When he's summoned to end a haunting at London's prestigious Bonnington Archive, he finds a vengeful specter with a blood-veiled face that resists methods for extirpating the usually docile dead. When Castor begins probing more deeply, he quickly finds himself harassed by a ravenous succubus, a belligerent fellow exorcist and a slimy Eastern European pimp. The resolution of this ingeniously multilayered tale will satisfy fans of both fantasy and detective fiction. Fix Castor's wisecracking cleverness in the face of weird nemeses makes him the perfect hardboiled hero for a new supernatural noir series. 10-city author tour. (July)
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Review

'Sleazy and down-at-heel and quintessentially London, Mike Carey's Felix Castor steps effortlessly into the growing field of supernatural noir and brings with him a blast of fresh, British air. Think Shoestring meets Constantine, with backing vocals from the shades of Leslie Charteris and Anais Nin. Carey's plotting is tight and laconic, and laced with shivery, understated horrors from both the human world and beyond. It grabs you from the first out-of-nowhere nasty surprise, and rarely lets go thereafter. You'll be up all night finishing this one.' Richard Morgan, bestselling author of ALTERED CARBON 'Imagine an unholy cross between Buffy, Jonathan Creek and hardboiled noir, set it in the sleazier bits of London, and you've got Mike Carey's The Devil You Know, a supernatural crime novel featuring Felix Castor, reluctant magician and part-time exorcist. Britain is filling up with zombies, ghosts, werewolves and demons; it's something to do with having entered the new millennium, maybe. All anyone knows for sure is that the beggars in street doorways are as likely to be dead as not. Recently retired, following a vicious encounter with a demon that left one of his friends in a very strange state of mind indeed, Castor owes his landlady rather too much rent. So when a ghost shows up in a library, Castor takes the job of exorcising it. A simple ghost, a library, how hard can it be? The reader knows the answer, the author knows the answer and so do Castor and the ghost. Fast, fun and furious, worth it for the final joke alone.' THE GUARDIAN 'Entertaining, well-paced, intelligently plotted and full of memorable characters' THE TIMES 'Witty, deadpan and shudderingly noir ... With a plot nailed down tighter than a coffin lid, Carey drives this thriller like Chandler at the wheel of a runaway hearse, combining the mundane with the monstrous to depict a capital city where demons, ghouls and werewolves share the dirty streets with the living, and he does it so you believe it. You've heard the rumour that Londoners are never more than a few feet from a rat - Carey will persuade you the same is true of the undead.' DAILY EXPRESS 'A violent ghost in a world where spirits are rarely mean-spirited is a clue to a deeper mystery in this engrossing dark fantasy debut from comics-writer Carey. Felix "Fix" Castor is an itinerant exorcist who (like a certain famous group of Hollywood ghost-evicters) alternates between dispatching spooks and doing stage magic at ungrateful children's birthday parties. When he's summoned to end a haunting at London's prestigious Bonnington Archive, he finds a vengeful specter with a blood-veiled face that resists methods for extirpating the usually docile dead. When Castor begins probing more deeply, he quickly finds himself harassed by a ravenous succubus, a belligerent fellow exorcist and a slimy Eastern European pimp. The resolution of this ingeniously multilayered tale will satisfy fans of both fantasy and detective fiction. Fix Castor's wisecracking cleverness in the face of weird nemeses makes him the perfect hardboiled hero for a new supernatural noir series.' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review) 'It's some way into The Devil You Know that the brilliance of Mike Carey's 'unique selling point' strikes you ... Carey's established a fascinating world and character to further explore, not least thanks to a lovely final twist that leaves you wondering how Castor and his unlikely new partner will work together...' STARBURST 'The Devil You Know is a stunning supernatural thriller, and one so brilliantly written that it simply blows away the competition in a field saturated at the moment. It's only April, but here, I guarantee, is one of the best books you'll read this year!' SF REVU.COM 'Extremely impressive - entertaining and assured. You're left with the eerie feeling that Felix Castor will be haunting us for a long time to come.' SFX "Carey's writing is nimble and witty, his dialogue believable ... [a] quirky, dark and imaginative tale that compels readers to keep turning pages long after they should have gotten to sleep' KIRKUS (starred review) 'The pacing is impeccable. There's plenty of action and surprising twists.' ROMANTIC TIMES (four and a half stars) 'It's an audacious move for a first-time prose novelist to choose as his protagonist a character who sounds like the setup to a joke, but that's exactly what Carey has done. Narrator Felix Castor is a hard-boiled exorcist who also dabbles in magic. The real trick, though, is that Carey pulls it off. Set in London, the story follows Castor as his financial woes lead him to take on a job in a career he thought he'd sworn off. It's one last exorcism, Castor tells himself, just to pay the bills, but he quickly finds he's taken on a great deal more when a haunted archive draws him into a sordid mystery. Carey has already made a name for himself in the world of graphic novels for, among other things, his work on Hellblazer. That series shares with this novel an attention to the seedier side of magic and the occult. Ghost hunters in Carey's novel are something akin to the private eyes in a Raymond Chandler story, and the recipe works startlingly well. While appealing to fans of Carey's graphic novels, this will likely also find praise among readers of horror and those looking for an offbeat mystery. Highly recommended.' LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Start, perfect for fans of Dresden Series Oct. 27 2009
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I can see the small similarities between the Harry Dresden series and this one. There are differences though. I found Felix Castor more dark and grittier than Dresden. It definitely more "noir" and having the setting taking place in London is perfect. London is so dark and wet most of the time and cold. I think the setting fits well and is described perfectly for this novel. The world here is much different than present day. The dead and ghosts are actually out and we're aware that they are. Most of the time though, they actually don't bother us except for a select few that have risen up to settle some differences. There is plenty of magic but it's not in the way of Harry Potter it's more darker and more realistic.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. It started off a little slow and I had to nearly force myself to get into it. Eventually it started picking up and I got more interested. It was especially interesting that although it's paranormal in regards to ghosts and other creatures (there's a loup garou but not what you usually think it would be..it's different). There's also an underlying realistic element in it as naturally the ghost is there with a reason and has a story to tell (ie; how she became a ghost) so real life comes into play just as much as the paranormal side does in this book. Which is good it's a nice mixture and it's done nicely so that the magic parts come naturally and it doesn't seem so out of the ordinary, it actually feels like everyday life.

I think the other reason why it took me a while to get into it, is because in the beginning, Felix goes through a huge narration on explaining how he got to this point, and how he met certain characters and their background stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good enough to want to read more in the series Feb. 9 2010
By Daffydd
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First of all , I enjoyed it. The story did develope a little slowly in the first part, introducing charactors who seem to intend to be involved in Felix's life, but not necessarilly in the story's main plot... until connections are made later. I stumbled through the first third of the book, and then was pulled in, and HAD TO read the last part of the book.
The translation from the world we live in (at least the one we think we know) to one with ghosts, magic and various undead up and around in the general mix of society... is well crafted. His reluctance to excorcise a ghost he has been contracted to make go away, until that nagging feeling is understood; that works very well; gives you a good read on the Felix. And the main charactor, Felix, is not a hero who has all the right answers and all the right moves, he gets into scrapes and sometimes 'takes the worse of it'... but, coincidence or luck, or karma, little clues to the mystery are granted.
I enjoyed it enough that I will pick up the second in the series so I can read the further adventures, but I can read some other books without getting itchy to read that second book 'this minute' 3 stars, better than that, 4 stars, maybe generous, probably justified.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  110 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cat and mouse game in the realm of ghosts Nov. 13 2007
By - Kasia S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was an entertaining read, a detective story that involved solving something other than your usual crimes; this time the supernatural is involved and who better to battle it than Felix Castor, a freelance exorcist with musical talent.

Witty, charming and intelligent, he maps out the grid of the ghosts he's getting rid by playing music on his tin whistle, but this time something else is going on, for once Felix starts to care about why the ghost is haunting the Bonnington Archive, a posh literary mecca of manuscripts and forgotten memories. Instead of wanting to get rid of the pesky hooded lady in white he realizes that something fishy is going on in the seemingly civilized and proper world of art and treasures and some people have crossed moral lines resulting in a haunting. Felix has other things to worry about, a big guy named Scrub who forces him to take on other projects, a mysterious succubus summoned from hell to get rid of him - someone doesn't want him to solve the enigma - and a brothel pimp who wants him to work on his side. Suffocated by negative sources he must solve the mystery of the mute ghost while under the watchful eyes of Alice, the lady in charge who seems to run the Archive while sleeping with the boss.

I liked the set up; the archives - quite an interesting place since I love libraries and various other paper storage places. It echoed of slight creepiness at night when Felix would sneak in to do his work, while seemingly alone he bumped into some things that kept threatening his life. This book was a fun read, although not too deep it still kept me interested enough to finish it in record time and the ending has quite interesting, I didn't make the connections until they were shown to me, so that's good, surprises are always welcome in my world of reading. I also liked that it left some threads running, I can only conclude that this story line will continue but with different clues and a new crime.

- Kasia S.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic Book Writer Makes Good on Novel July 8 2007
By Autumn Star Kindelspire - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a big fan of Mike Carey, admittedly. I love Lucifer and HellBlazer, both comic books written by Mr. Carey. It excited me to see a comic book writer writing a novel, because I always hope it will shed more public light on what amazing writers are in the comic world right now. (There have been some great cross overs, such as Neil Gaiman, but we can always use one more.)

Anyway, when I first picked up The Devil You Know and read the jacket, I thought perhaps this would be a soft-boiled version of John Constantine. I was wrong.

Felix Castor is close to Constantine, no argument there. They share an attitude that is grim and at the same time blackly humorous. They're both working in the trade of the spirit world, and they both have friends with chips on the shoulder, chips pointed at them. However, "Fix" has no place for magic in his exorcisms, and does his best to be an atheist. Constantine's bread and butter is magic, and he knows too well that there is a heaven and a hell.

The Devil You Know is a witty mystery with delightfully dark characters. I read it in a day, sucked into the story as sure as if Fix was playing the whistle into my ear. I loved it, I loved each character, I loved guessing at the next plot twist, and being pleasantly surprised when I was right, and more pleased when I was wrong.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story, a good murder mystery, or just good writing, great characters, and a twisting storyline.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Damn! Oct. 21 2007
By TJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I just finished the book 10 minutes ago. Mike Carey hit on every cliche of the hard-boiled detective genre. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment. All the best hard-boiled detective stories are ultimately about the murder victim, and a flawed champion seeking to lay his or her troubled ghost to rest by exposing the culprit. (For the record, I'm aware of how pompous that last sentence was. I've got a few beers in me. Give me a freakin break.) Carey adds a new layer with the supernatural element, making the victim's ghost a real rather than a metaphorical presence. The casting of an actual succubus in the femme fatale role was a nice touch, too. And no matter how outlandish the story became, Carey's feel for realistic settings and characters kept the whole thing grounded. It was gritty, disturbing, funny and surprisingly tender. At the end, Carey seemed to be laying the groundwork for a continuing series. I hope I'm right, because I'd like to read more.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly British Jan. 16 2013
By Gully Gosseyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As other reviewers have noted, Carey's first claim to fame was as a comic book writer. I expected this book to be a violent ghost-fest with lots of sex, gore and vivid action. Not the way it goes. Like many other British novelists, Carey enjoys a well-mannered and leisurely stroll through a complicated but eventually plausible plot, and supernatural London is a familiar old neighborhood, but with ghosts.

If Glen Cook's Garrett, PI is wildly over-the-top, Felix Castor, the ghost exorcist in "Devil" is pleasantly around-the-middle--something like Harry Dresden, but more charming, and with a delightfully self-degradating sense of humor that draws smiles rather than belly laughs. There are love/sex interests in plenty, from a Succubus to a gorgeous but Platonic flatmate, to a tight-butted and willing IT specialist, to a varied assortment of prostitutes...but for the most part (with two hot exceptions) the sex is potentially titillating only. Felix, or "Fix" as he is known to his friends, is on an assignment to exorcise a ghost that is terrorizing an Archive of Various Odds and Ends in London. He soon discovers that there is a back story that he can't let go, and winds up involved in theft, murder, human trafficking, etc. As pointed out by other reviewers, the story is made lively by the involvement of various supernatural creatures, including not only ghosts and Succubi, but also demons and Loup-Garous. But while there is enough action to keep the plot moving, the most pleasing aspect of this novel is the constant self-analysis the Felix suffers through. He is deeply concerned with existential questions about ghosts: when he exorcises them, where do they go? Is he a murderer?

The depth of Fix's character make this novel, the first in a series, stand out from the zillions of other supernatural detectives/hunters/killers novels. In particular, his insight into his own human condition deepens as the story moves forward, and we begin to really empathize with his personal demons of guilt. Best of all, several of the other characters are quite delightful, and give us hope they will reappear in the succeeding novels of this series.

If you like this type of novel, you'll like this book. But if you also like Deborah Grabien, or M. John Harrison, or Jonathan Carroll, or Daryll Gregory, you might love it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It will touch your soul. Sept. 11 2007
By Daniel A. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Maybe I don't give comic books enough credit or Carey is extremely gifted, but this book was like nothing I'd ever read before. He talks about stuff I hadn't read anywhere else and provides a leading character that I felt like I'd known all my life. He writes with such a unique perspective and original plot that the whole time I was sort of blown away. Above all that he didn't try intertwine lots of theology and religion in the plot, he kept it as neutral as possible and added a comical flair to top it off.
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