City of Devils by Justin Robinson – A Review

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So, it’s January and 2013 is over. (I know. You probably already figured out both of those facts.) I have one more book to review for the WOGF Challenge, but that just arrived in the mail on Tuesday and I haven’t finished it yet.

Instead, I’m going to review the first book I’ve finished for 2014. That would be Justin Robinson’s City of Devils, published last year by Candlemark & Gleam.

To be honest (full disclosure & all), Justin’s been a guest of this blog twice now (here and here), and my first novella was also published by Candlemark & Gleam. So, my opinion might be somewhat biased. Maybe.

Because, you guys? City of Devils is amazing!

*cough* Ahem. Let’s start with the book design. I donated to City of Devils‘ Kickstarter (see “somewhat biased” above) last year and received the paperback as part of the bag o’swag (along with trading cards, my own rebirth certificate, and crawling eye candy, among other goodies). Kids, this thing is gorgeous, one of the prettiest books I’ve had the pleasure to read in ages. It started with that cover up there, and proceeded to win me over with a beautiful easy-on-the-eyes font, comfy margins you can sink your thumbs into (I have a thing for those), neat character illustrations, and finished up with some fun fake ads.

ocutol ad

Just one of many.

The book’s packaging does a great job of setting the mood for the text that lies within. For that, you can credit Kate Sullivan (Mastermind of C&G), who has told me, on more than one occasion, that books should be an event, especially the paper kind. City of Devils is all of that.

So what about that text? Well, dear readers, you are in for a treat. That is, if you like comic noir mysteries with a cast of B movie monsters in them. (I’m convinced that Justin must have written this book for me, because, well, comic noir mystery with a cast of B movie monsters in it! That’s kinda my thing.)

Okay, fine. It’s a lot of people’s thing. I can share. Really, I can. All the better for Justin.

The star of this book is a private detective named Nick Moss. He lives in an L.A. that has been taken over by monsters (crawling eyes, werewolves, weremen [there’s a difference], gill-men, etc.). Defeated in the Night War, humans have been relegated to second-class citizenry, only at liberty during the daylight hours. Once night falls, they’re fair game for the monsters who want to eat them and/or turn them. Nick is approached by a shapeshifting actress (the book’s femme fatale, natch) who wants him to find her missing husband, a philandering politician, who is also a mummy. He takes the case and mayhem ensues.

Justin is a super storyteller who has created an authentic noir world with some fascinating and hilarious characters in City of Devils. He knows how to turn a phrase and is a master of dialogue. Along with that, you get more allusions to B and noir movies than you can shake a witch’s broomstick at. My favorites are most likely the octopus prop that won’t stay attached to the ceiling and the sheriff named Lobo Castle (two for one there)

I adore Nick.  He’s hella fun as the somewhat-but-not-quite bumbling detective who can’t light a cigarette to save his life. But Justin also gives us an inkling of the darkness underneath a man just trying to survive in a nightmare. As far as the book’s monster characters, I’m particularly fond of Sam Haine, the pumpkinhead who desperately wants to turn Nick, and Ugoth the Castrator… a more sympathetic character than you might imagine with that name. Oh, and Bloody Bridget. She is so funny.

And then there’s Escuerzo.

Okay, I kind of promised myself I would not turn into a complete fangirl when I wrote my review for City of Devils.

That's not good.

Obviously, I failed.

My only consolation is that Justin is an even bigger fanboy about Kate in the book’s acknowledgements. It’s kind of adorable.

What a great start to my (and hopefully your) 2014 reading. 5/5

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