The Devil's Home on Leave (Factory Series #2)

Overview

Which is worse: A psychopathic killer or murderous corruption?

The second book in Derek Raymond's acclaimed Factory Series opens with the chilling discovery of a horribly butchered body abandoned in a warehouse by the Thames. It's obviously the work of a contract killer, but why would a professional leave the body for discovery?

With his usual mix of cunning and nerve, the unnamed Detective Sergeant from the Unexplained Deaths Department stands...

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The Devil's Home on Leave (Factory Series #2)

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Overview

Which is worse: A psychopathic killer or murderous corruption?

The second book in Derek Raymond's acclaimed Factory Series opens with the chilling discovery of a horribly butchered body abandoned in a warehouse by the Thames. It's obviously the work of a contract killer, but why would a professional leave the body for discovery?

With his usual mix of cunning and nerve, the unnamed Detective Sergeant from the Unexplained Deaths Department stands up to both mobsters and his superiors to get to the truth. He soon finds himself engaged in a harrowing game of cat-and-mouse with a psychopathic murderer who seems to have ties to the highest levels of the British government.

When one of his superiors warns him to back off, saying, "You'll always get the shitty end of the stick," he explains, "Maybe, but I think that's the end where the truth is."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Derek Raymond's Factory Series

"Unrelenting existentialist noir—as if the most brutal of crime fictions had been recast by Sartre, Camus, or Ionesco while retaining something of the intimate wise-guy tone of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett."
—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

"It’s one of the darkest and most surrealistically hard-boiled things I’ve ever read. The detective is at least as scary as the murderers he’s chasing."
—William Gibson, bestselling author of Neuromancer

"No one claiming interest in literature truly written from the edge of human experience, no one wondering at the limits of the crime novel and of literature itself, can overlook these extraordinary books."
—James Sallis, author of Drive

"The Factory novels are certainly the most viscerally imagined of their kind that I've ever read, or reread multiple times.  Derek Raymond wrote in a supposedly escapist genre in a manner that precluded any hope of escape."
—Scott Phillips, bestselling author of The Ice Harvest

"There remains no finer writing – crime or otherwise – about the state of Britain."
—David Peace, author of "The Red Riding Quartet."

"Carve Derek Raymond’s name into the literary pantheon. He is one of the rare authors who seek to understand evil, ferret out the darkness in human nature, and blast Noir fiction out of the genre ghetto and into Literature. His nameless detective's quest through the bleak streets gets under your skin. Amazing, painful and brilliant."
—Cara Black, bestselling author of Murder at the Lanterne Rouge

"I Was Dora Suarez blew me away - beyond hard boiled."
—Patton Oswalt

"More Chandleresque than Chandler... [Raymond] could write beautifully...and, more importantly, what he is writing about in this novel are nothing less than the important subjects any writer can deal with: mortality and death."
—Will Self

"A bizarre mixture of Chandleresque elegance... and naked brutality"
The Daily Telegraph

"I cannot think of another writer so obsessed with the skull beneath the skin."
The Times (London)

“A crackerjack of a crime novel, unafraid to face the reality of man’s and woman’s evil.”
Evening Standard

"The beautiful, ruthless simplicity of the Factory novels is that Raymond rewrites the basic ethos of the classic detective novel."
—Charles Taylor, The Nation

"Hellishly bleak and moving."
—New Statesman

"These are dark, horrible and lovely."
—Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers

The Barnes & Noble Review

Derek Raymond is the pen name of Robert "Robin" Cook (1931–93), who was born into the British upper class but chose to live among addicts, gangsters, killers, and coppers. Cook ran rackets for London's infamous Kray Gang and, as Raymond, earning the title Godfather of British Noir with his four Factory novels — republished in the United States by Melville House — crime fiction so dark that it remains viscerally shocking.

The 1970s/1980s London that Raymond conjures is dank and claustrophobic. His protagonist, a nameless Detective Sergeant, works in the Unexplained Deaths Department of the Metropolitan Police in a building known as the Factory, handling cases passed over by more ambitious detectives. "?I can get on with it, as a rule, almost entirely on my own," the Sergeant explains in The Devil's Home on Leave, "without a load of keen idiots tripping all over my feet." There is something of Bertie Wooster in that genteel sentence. But if Raymond recalls Wodehouse — in his laconic wit, his comic timing, and his nostalgia for a vanished Britain — it is Wodehouse in Hades. "?I stepped back with a last glance at his face," the Sergeant says of the mutilated corpse at the heart of He Died with His Eyes Open. "They had left some of it, I will say, whoever they were. It wasn't a strong face, but one that had seen everything and then not understood it until it was too late."

The opening scene of that novel contains elements that become familiar, but never stale, in subsequent novels: a filthy street, a destroyed corpse, a showdown between the beat cop who moves "with a controlled restlessness, cherishing his fists," and the sardonic, fearless Sergeant. Here, an audio diary kept by the victim leads the Sergeant into the man's past, where an erotic entanglement reveals the foul truth behind the killing. Lean and relentless, He Died with His Eyes Open is a moody sketch of a society in which the spirit of Dunkirk has been replaced by the doctrine of Margaret Thatcher.

The Devil's Home on Leave, arguably Raymond's most chilling novel, is an intimate study of McGruder, an ex-soldier turned psychopath. In one of several conversations during which McGruder describes his own exceptional nature, the Sergeant suddenly realizes "what hell it meant not only to be a killer, but a bore. You think nothing of taking life; but your own existence fascinates you?" The novel's tight plot hinges on espionage and is enriched, as always, by Raymond's incidental descriptions — of an April evening, for example, ("The weather had turned sick") or a pompous suspect ("...everything looked honest in that room except him.").

How the Dead Live takes the Sergeant into "what passed for rural Britain now," where the wife of an impoverished aristocrat has disappeared. As the novel develops from a curdled version of a country weekend mystery into a gothic nightmare, it takes us deeper into the Sergeant's desolate heart. "My conception of knowledge is grief and despair," he confesses, and we believe him. He loves his sweet sister, his incarcerated wife, and his dead child, and mourns his country. "The best went into the two wars and stayed there," an old soldier tells him. Only the dregs remain.

This theme, the fate of innocence in such a world, is monstrously portrayed in I Was Dora Suarez, the most complete distillation of Raymond's vision — more hallucination than fiction — which even the toughest readers may find unbearable.

Anna Mundow writes "The Interview" and the "Historical Novels" columns for The Boston Globe and is a contributor to The Irish Times.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935554585
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Series: Factory Series , #2
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 994,035
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Derek Raymond was the pseudonym of British writer Robert Cook, who was born in London in 1931. The son of a textile magnate, he dropped out of Eton and rejected a life of privilege for a life of adventure. He traveled the world, living in Paris at the Beat Hotel and on New York’s seedy Lower East Side, smuggled artworks into Amsterdam, and spent time in a Spanish prison for publicly making fun of Franco. Finally, he landed back in London, working in the lower echelons of the Kray Brothers’ crime syndicate laundering money, organizing illegal gambling, and setting up insurance scams. He eventually took to writing—first as a pornographer, but then as an increasingly serious novelist, writing about the desperate characters and experiences he’d known in London’s underground. His work culminated in the Factory novels, landmarks that have led many to consider  him the founding father of British noir. He died in London in 1993.

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