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From the Publisher"Whipcrack-fast, hellishly smart, and wonderfully noir—Known Devil is a marvellous ride."
—Lilith Saintcrow, New York Times bestselling author.
Posted February 1, 2014
Known Devil is the third instalment in Gustainis’ Occult Crime Uniturban fantasy series. Though I had not read the first two books, this one was completely stand-alone and didn’t make me feel I was missing anything. I have, however, read other books from Gustainis in the past (Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman andSympathy for the Devil), and thoroughly enjoyed them. He is a fabulous writer.
In this exciting new series, Detective Sergeant Stanley Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit, and his partner, vampire detective Karl Renfer, try to keep law and order in a world where supernaturals — or supes — have come out of the closet and walk the streets with humans. Markowski’s daughter, a vampire witch, is eager to help and offer her expertise, especially because she’s attracted to Karl.
A new drug has hit the streets, Haemoglobin Plus — better known as Slide — the first drug that addicts supes, and as a result, a new wave of crimes has risen in Scranton. Stan and Karl are right on the case, interrogating both humans and supes alike, trying to find out who is behind the new drug: Pietro Calabrese, the Godfather of the local vampire family? Wizard Victor Castle, the unofficial head of the city’s whole supernatural community? The Delatasso family? Or the new Patriot Party, who has declared supes “abominations before the Lord?”
If you love urban fantasy a la crime noir, you’ll love this book. Gustainis is smart, gritty, snarky. I just love his sharp, witty descriptions. Take a look at a few:
“He had salt-and-pepper hair, wide-set brown eyes, and a thin moustache in the middle of a face that was no harder than your average concrete wall.”
“He stared at me with eyes that had probably looked dead even before he became a vampire.”
“The terrace outside the front door is open in warmer weather, for those who like sharing their food with the local bugs. I prefer to eat inside, where the only insects I’m likely to encounter have two legs.”
“I saw a puzzled look on his face — maybe because Karl’s grip, like every vampire’s, is colder than a banker’s heart.”
Gustainis is also a master at providing comic relief. I laughed out loud at times. Stan is a likable, sympathetic character, tough yet kind when needed. The world building, the setting, and all the supernatural details come through in a genuine, realistic way. I also enjoyed all the police procedural, showing once more, as in his other books, that Gustainis has done his research well.
The story moves at a fairly quick pace, propelled by entertaining dialogue and lots of action scenes. Particularly interesting is the dynamics between humans and supernaturals now that they have to co-exist side by side. But best of all, is the author’s gifted prose, a pleasure to read. Highly recommended for fans of detective urban fantasy!
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Posted July 3, 2014
In Scranton, USA, fangsters are killing each other, Stephen King is a “true-crime writer,” and not selling blood in a bar doesn’t mean you're prejudiced against “supes”; it might just be “some kind of religious thing.” Still, the undead daughter will warm her cup in the microwave while Dad eats breakfast before joining the night shift at the precinct.
You could start this series anywhere and still get hooked. Backstory is minimal and informative, told in the laconic, self-deprecating voice of a wonderful protagonist, Stan Markowski. And the front story’s full of twists and turns as terrorism raises its ugly head in a small town, perfection proves hard to attain, and unknown assailants are sometimes thwarted by equally unknown assistants, while blood flows in the streets.
Dark times forge dark alliances, and create strange challenges. But the solutions flow with a convincing paranormal logic. The grisly dark is lightened with strings of puns. The humor is pleasingly noir. And the author continues to do for Scranton what Jim Butcher’s done for Chicago and Kat Richardson for Seattle. It’s a great series!
Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.
Posted February 28, 2014
KNOWN DEVIL is the third book in the Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series featuring Detectives Stan Markowski and Karl Renfer. Set in a world similar, but very different, from our own Markowski has to deal with a new threat to Scranton and the supes who live there. There is a new drug, Hemoglobin Plus (aka Slide), hitting the streets which creates addicts across species lines. This is something which has been unheard of before and is evidentiary of a bigger issue for the residents of Scranton. While Markowski and Renfer hunt for the hidden agenda behind the attempts at a supe takeover, supes are dying in the streets. With the pressure mounting, Markowski is forced to make temporary deals with the current powers that be. As everyone knows, sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. KNOWN DEVIL is a great story, with our favorite OCU detectives and a twisted mystery for them to unravel. I love Markowski’s style, very matter of fact and willing to do what it takes to keep his town safe. The author has built a world which I wouldn’t mind living in, even with the potential danger. The small details are always very consistent, which makes this alternate Scranton brilliantly come alive. KNOWN DEVIL is wickedly suspenseful, with dark humor and a great mystery. If you love noir detective stories with a paranormal bent, The Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series is for you!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 13, 2014
Mix some elves, vampires, goblins and werewolves; add turf wars among the vampire fangsters, sleazy politics and drug-addicted supes (supernaturals); toss with a human police detective and his vamp partner and what do you get? Why, impending chaos in the streets of Scranton, of course!
Stan Markowski and his partner, Karl Renfer, have been my favorite pair of crossgenre detectives since I read Hard Spell, first in the Occult Crimes Unit series, in 2011. My enjoyment continued with the second book, Evil Dark, and I’m just as happy now with Known Devil. Stan and Karl fight crime just as police detectives everywhere do but it just so happens that many of the bad guys they have to deal with are supes. Some of those—elves, for instance—are just annoyances compared to the vampire gang run by the vampfather, Don Pietro Calabrese, so the guys are caught by surprise when they run into a pair of clearly high elves in an armed robbery because everyone knows no supes are susceptible to drugs except goblins.
The questions about this mysterious drug known as Slide soon lead to more disturbing events and then shootings and other attacks on the vamps begin to escalate. Much to everyone’s discomfort, it becomes apparent that the evil the Scranton cops know may not be nearly as alarming as what’s come to town.
Any reader who is bothered by vulgar language should be prepared to see a lot of it in this book. Personally, I don’t much like it but I do feel it’s pretty appropriate in a noir tale such as this. Let’s face it, gangsters and cops don’t sugarcoat their language and the story would be weak if such word choices weren’t included. That aside, there’s really nothing about Known Devil that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy and it was a real pleasure to spend time with Stan and Karl and their colleagues and even some of the bad guys. Mr. Gustainis ties off the ending with a hint of things to come and I wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the next book.
Posted February 8, 2014
There's something wrong with the formatting of this ebook. Once you get to around page 120 it begins taking around 8 seconds to load each page. The problem has occured on multiple devices.
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