Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vicious Circle by Mike Carey

Vicious Circle (Felix Castor)You know, there are two types of series mystery (well, probably more than that, but I'm only going to talk about two) that I read regularly. The first is the type where the "detective" appears throughout the series, but the villain or perpetrator of the crime is apprehended or killed, and doesn't appear in subsequent novels. The detective might not even be a professional, per se, thinking of Kellerman's Alex Delaware (a shrink), or Child's Jack Reacher (a retired MP), but that's not the point. The other type of mystery is one where the villain, or a subset of a number of villians, may be apprehended or killed, but there's always another bad guy or organization left lurking in the background, waiting for another conflict with the hero, thinking of Hamilton's Anita Blake or Harris' Sookie Stackhouse.

So, while this novel by Carey is not exactly a mystery, and Felix Castor is not exactly a detective, this story falls into the latter category of series mysteries. Castor is put in the position of having to do some detective work to figure out what's really going on, and the reader is dragged along through his false starts and misadventures.

I really love a smart aleck protagonist, and Castor has a tendency to give his adverseries a certain amount of lip. Amusingly enough, it usually results in him getting his head bashed, ribs cracked, or backside bitten.

Castor is hired by a married couple to help them track down the ghost of their daughter, Abby. Her spirit has been kidnapped by a fellow exorcist named David Peace (and I groaned like anything at the end of the book when his name turned out to be part of a great shaggy dog shtick). Should be a straightforward sort of thing, but it rapidly gets sticky. A renegade order of Catholic enforcers gets involved, a major demon gets loose to wreak havoc in a London shopping mall, Castor's succubus protege pulls him in for a consultation, Fix goes head to head with the director of the sanitarium in which his demon-possessed friend, Rafi, is sequestered, and the police haul him in under suspicion of human sacrifice.

Without spoiling things, I can only say that Fix's case is brought to a successful, though unanticipated, solution, while the rest of his problems just metastasize into another form, to be dealt with in the next installment. If you liked Carey's dark urban fantasy, The Devil You Know, you'll probably love this one.

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