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Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Sympathy for the Devil

Sympathy for the Devil (Morris and Chastain Investigations)Title: Sympathy for the Devil
Author: Justin Gustainis
Page Count: 480 pages
Publisher: Solaris
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review provided by the publisher in anticipation of an honest review

Senator Howard Stark wants to be President of the United States. So does the demon inside him. With the competing candidates dropping out due to scandal, blackmail, and ‘accidental’ death, Stark looks like a good bet to go all the way to the White House. And if he gets there, Hell on Earth will follow.

Occult investigator Quincey Morris and white witch Libby Chastain are determined to stop this evil conspiracy. But between them and Stark stand the dedicated agents of the US Secret Service – as well as the very forces of Hell itself. Quincey and Libby will risk everything to exorcise the demon possessing Stark. If they fail, ‘Hail to the Chief’ will become a funeral march – for all of us.

Sympathy for the Devil is the third book in a series, but don't let that deter you from picking up this dark, snarky, entertaining story.  As a matter of fact, it's nice to know that there are other books in the series, as I'll be able to catch up while waiting for the next installment in the series!

There is a lot going on in this story, and it certainly is timely.  A presidential election is looming and candidates are out trying to shore up their positions and emerge at the head of the pack for their parties.  Even under normal circumstances, this involves mudslinging, secret revealing, dirty tricks, and all other manner of attention-grabbing stunts; add in something a little off the path like demonic possession and you might even convince me to watch CSPAN.

I'm kidding about the CSPAN, but not about the level of detail and observation that goes into every element of the story.  Our intrepid investigators, white witch Libby Castain and occult investigator Quincey Morris, find themselves sucked into an investigation where nothing is as it seems, and it's hard to pinpoint who the good guys are or if they even exist.  This is a big picture conflict; while nobody will miss a slimy politician who made a deal with the wrong demon, being responsible for the destruction of humanity and the world as we know it is something that nobody wants.

It should be said, too, that if you're looking for cuddly demons who are abrasive but misunderstood, then you need to look elsewhere.  The demons here are what one might expect from the denizens of hell; they are cruel to the nth degree, they have no regard for anyone or anything, and they speak their horrible minds freely, with all the profanity and R-rated content that one might expect.  Even the "not as bad this time around" demons are intense.  Those on the side of righteousness certainly have their work cut out for them.

This book is definitely part of an ongoing series; there are elements that are not resolved at the end of this book (big ones, if I may say so myself) that set the stage for the next book nicely.  I'm definitely interested in seeing how things progress in the next novel.  I'm a recent arrival to this series, but I'm definitely a fan after Sympathy for the Devil's strong showing.

Overall Grade: A
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