Monday, July 19, 2010

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know (Felix Castor)
This was the first novel I'd ever read by Mike Carey, and it may, indeed, be his first novel ever. Felix "Fix" Castor is a rather reluctant exorcist, having had some bad experiences in the past. He makes ends meet by doing the occasional odd job around London, and even the odd bit of magic at parties, most of which is standard sleight of hand, but every once in a while, when he's properly motivated, he adds a touch of the supernatural to his act.
Fix's last attempt at exorcism went very badly for a friend of his, Rafi. Rafi had been experimenting with summoning demons, and when he became possessed by one, Fix's effort to drive out the demon from his body ended up driving Rafi out, instead. On a visit to Rafi at the insane asylum, the demon (unimaginatively named "Asmodeus") tells Fix that he's about to accept a job that's going to kill him.
Fix is contacted after that by the director of the Bonnington Archive, who wants him to get rid of a ghost that's been haunting the archive for several months. Ghosts generally don't behave too badly, but this one seems to be seriously upset about something, and has actually injured one of the workers there. Fix tries his best to avoid taking the job, but some unfortunate events (not quite a series of them) and a desperate need for cash force his hand.
Now, after a brief bit of investigation, Fix could have just banished the ghost to wherever it was supposed to go when it died, but he begins to suspect there's more involved in this haunting than meets the eye, so he drags things out a bit and continues to investigate what's been happening at the archive to try to figure out why the ghost is haunting that location in the first place.
In so doing, he runs afoul of the seamier, seedier side of London. He's dragged to a meeting with the proprietor of a whorehouse, ostensibly to sweep it for ghosts, but actually more so the owner can take his measure. Fix suspects the man is somehow involved in what's going on at the archive, but can't quite make the connection.
Things get dicey for a bit, but it all falls out well in the end, at least for Fix and most of his friends. Interesting almost anti-hero, twisty plot, and a good bit of dark urban fantasy here, folks. Worth the read, and worth keeping an eye on Mr. Carey and his pal, Fix.

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