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Speak of the Devil (Morgan Kingsley Series #4)

Speak of the Devil (Morgan Kingsley Series #4)

4.2 58
by Jenna Black

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Morgan Kingsley, America’s most successful exorcist, is paying the price for an exorcism gone wrong. The victim’s family is suing the daylights out of her, the Exorcism Board has suspended her, and now she’s living on a diet of ramen noodles and bad coffee. But Morgan has a



Morgan Kingsley, America’s most successful exorcist, is paying the price for an exorcism gone wrong. The victim’s family is suing the daylights out of her, the Exorcism Board has suspended her, and now she’s living on a diet of ramen noodles and bad coffee. But Morgan has a few good men at her side. One is her current boyfriend, nice-guy legal eagle Brian, who’s suddenly starting to reveal his inner bad boy. The other is Philly cop Adam White, who’s trying to help Morgan find out who sent her a little present—a severed human hand—and why someone seems determined to destroy her.

As her stalker turns more violent, leaving dead bodies in his wake, Morgan turns to the dark side of her life: a group of demons steeped in secrets, sinful eroticism, and otherworldly family feuds, including one sexy beast who shares Morgan’s body—and some X-rated fantasies. Soon Morgan must choose between her friends, her enemies, and her libido: to escape a mad demon determined to destroy her completely.

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An exorcist with attitude, Morgan Kingsley is sure to win Black a legion of fans.” —Kelley Armstrong

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Morgan Kingsley Series , #4
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Random House
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2 MB

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Chapter One

"I don't need a lawyer," I told Brian once again.

He looked more mulish each time I said it. "Yes, you do!" His voice had risen a tad, but he was still calmer than I was. I suspected I was red in the face by now.

Arguing with Brian is almost always a losing battle, but that never stops me from trying. "This case is bullshit. People have tried to sue exorcists before and gotten laughed out of court."

That was a bit of an exaggeration, but still... The general public doesn't know why most hosts are catatonic after their demons have been exorcized, or why a small percentage are actually brain-dead. And there was absolutely zero evidence that the exorcist's performance had anything to do with it. But that hadn't deterred Jordan Maguire Sr. from filing suit against me when my exorcism on his son didn't go quite the way he'd have liked.

"I don't think you understand lawyers," Brian said with a sardonic grin. "The fact that no one's been successful in a suit so far is more of a plus than a minus for some of them. If they happen to succeed where everyone else has failed, they make a big splash. If the suit fizzles, there's no harm done—but it'll still be a major pain in the ass for you."

"Yes, but—"

"It's not just going to go away, Morgan."

I think I was beginning to believe that, but that didn't stop me from hoping. I had more than enough problems in my life without dealing with a lawsuit. I felt a whopper of a headache coming on. "Why can't you just defend me yourself?" I'm afraid I sounded a little whiny, but I couldn't help it. What's the good of dating a lawyer if he can't defend you when some asshole decides to sue?

"Because you need a tort defense attorney, not a corporate attorney."

I plopped down on Brian's couch and rested my head against the back, staring at the ceiling. If Maguire's goal was to make me miserable, he'd succeeded. But there was a reason I was violently opposed to hiring a lawyer, and it wasn't anything I'd said out loud—yet. See, a couple of months ago, my house and all my worldly possessions had burned to the ground. It was going to take me approximately forever and a day to recover from the financial devastation, even when the insurance company finally coughed up every cent they owed me. There was no question it was arson, and the official investigation had ruled that I was not the guilty party. However, since the fire had been started inside my house while I was still in it, the insurance company had launched its own investigation. My theory was that they were looking for excuses to delay paying me, but it turned out that mentioning this to the insurance investigator wasn't the way to win friends and influence people.

Add to that the fact that the U.S. Exorcism Board had suspended me when the lawsuit was filed, and I was already on a strict diet of ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches. I didn't want to think about how much I'd have to pay a lawyer to defend this suit.

"Look," I said, "I know this isn't your area of expertise, but I'd feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with you defending me than some stranger."

Brian sighed as he took a seat on the couch beside me. "You wouldn't find it so comfortable if I bungled the case."

"You wouldn't!" I protested, raising my head to give him an indignant look. Brian is competence personified, and I'm not just saying that because I'm in love with him.

He frowned at me. "Yeah, I would. Not because I'm an idiot, but because I'm not an expert. Believe me, this thing could get ugly fast, and I'd be out of my league."


"What percentage of hosts end up catatonic after an exorcism?"

It was my turn to frown. "I don't know, about eighty percent. Why?"

"Okay, how many end up brain-dead?"

I could tell from the intense way he was looking at me that he wasn't going to answer my question until I answered his. "Maybe about two percent? I don't have the exact figure."

"Let's say you've got the figures exactly right. What percentage of the hosts that you personally have performed exorcisms on are catatonic, and what percentage are brain-dead?"

I didn't feel like sitting still anymore, so I jumped to my feet and started pacing. "How should I know? You think I keep a tally or something?"

Brian stayed seated and watched me pace. "I bet the U.S. Exorcism Board does."

"Well, I'm probably right around the average."

"What if you're not? What if it turns out three percent of your exorcisms end in brain death?"


"You're the most successful exorcist in the U.S.," he interrupted, in full lawyer mode now. "You get called in to exorcize demons other exorcists have failed to cast out. Is it possible these demons who are extra powerful do more damage to their hosts' brains?"

My chest felt kind of hollow all of a sudden. Because I myself was possessed by Lugh, the king of the demons, I knew a lot of things that your average human being didn't know. Like that the reason most hosts are catatonic or brain-dead is that illegal or rogue demons—those who possess unwilling hosts or commit violent crimes—are much more likely to abuse their hosts than legal ones. Brian knew this, too, but most humans thought it was a total mystery why most hosts were fried, and that was just the way the demons liked it. It was certainly within the realm of possibility that I'd exorcized demons who'd been extra abusive.

"You know Maguire's attorney is going to look into those statistics right off the bat," Brian continued. "And if your numbers don't exactly match the national average, he's immediately going to have fuel to attack you."

Yup. Definitely getting a headache. I pinched the bridge of my nose. But Brian wasn't finished hammering home his point.

"What about your exorcism ritual?" he asked.

I crossed my arms over my chest. "What about it?"

"Is it exactly like everyone else's?"

"Of course not," I said through gritted teeth. "There's no standard procedure. Each exorcist has their own ritual." Brian already knew this, so I wasn't expecting my answer to satisfy him.

"But there are some things most exorcisms have in common, aren't there? For example, isn't it common practice to create a circle of protection around the person to be exorcized?"

I rolled my eyes. "A lot of people do that," I admitted, "but it doesn't actually do anything. It's just something that helps put the exorcist into the trance state."

"Did you create a circle of protection around Jordan Maguire?"

Oh shit! It didn't take a genius to figure out where he was going with this. I'd always had a more no-nonsense style than most of my fellow exorcists. My ritual is very simple, relying only on lighting a few vanilla-scented candles. For me, that's all it takes to induce the trance state I need to be in to perform an exorcism. Sometimes, when I'm really stressed out or upset, I'd set up the candles in a circle just for the reassurance of the more traditional ritual, but I usually just put them wherever it's convenient.

"Like I said, the circle is just symbolic." But even I could imagine how this could sound to a layman when delivered with proper flourish from a sharklike attorney.

"And what were you wearing when you performed the exorcism?"

"What?" I cried, giving him an are-you-crazy look. "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"

"Were you wearing a suit? Or at least dressed in business casual?"

"No! That's not my style, and you know it." I didn't specifically remember what I had worn that day, but the outfit had likely included low-rise jeans. I was pretty sure I hadn't gone with my leather look. But whatever I'd worn, it would be captured for posterity on a digital recording of the procedures.

Brian frowned theatrically. "Then you don't really take these exorcisms seriously, do you?"

"Of course I do!" I could tell from the heat in my cheeks that my face had flushed nice and red. And my voice had grown steadily louder.

"You expect me to think you take an exorcism seriously when you don't bother to create a circle of protection and you show up wearing jeans?"

It was all I could do not to kick the coffee table. Or Brian's shin. "That's just ridiculous. I told you, the circle is just for show. And what does it matter what I wear?"

Brian nodded sagely. "You'll make a wonderful impression at your deposition when you start shouting like that."

Okay, now I really wanted to go after his shins.

"You wouldn't be getting so worked up if you didn't see my point," Brian said. "Like I said, this isn't my specialty. Imagine what an expert can do. You need someone who can anticipate questions like these—and worse—so you can be prepared to answer them reasonably. I'm not the man for the job."

My palms were sweating, so I wiped them on my pants legs. Yeah, he'd definitely made his point.
I blew out a deep breath, then sat beside him on the couch again. I clasped my hands between my knees and stared at them. "I don't even want to ask how much this will cost me," I said.

"No, you probably don't."

I swallowed hard and forced myself to look at him. "How much is this going to cost me?"

"Depends on how ugly it gets and how long it goes on. Your attorney will probably charge somewhere around two-fifty to three-fifty an hour, and then there will be all kinds of other expenses, like hiring expert witnesses and—"

"Just give me some kind of ballpark estimate."

The sympathy in his eyes told me more than I wanted to know, but he verbalized it anyway. "It could easily run fifty to a hundred grand, and that's kind of on the low side."

I'm pretty sure my face went completely white. I'd known it was going to be bad, but not that bad. I couldn't possibly afford that kind of money. Not even close. I was real grateful Brian didn't start in on me about having let my liability insurance lapse. It wasn't something I'd done on purpose. It was just that with my house burning down and various people trying to kill me and my loved ones, I'd been a little slack on the day-to-day stuff. I was lucky if I remembered to pay my rent.

"You know I'll help you," Brian said softly.

The gentleness in his voice made my eyes burn. I suck at accepting help of any kind, and Brian knows it. To accept that kind of money from him was absolutely out of the question.

"I don't think you're going to have much of a choice," he continued, as if he'd heard my thoughts.

I really hated that he was right. Again.

I felt like complete crap after my conversation with Brian. I'd been hoping for a little action when I went to his place, but talk of the impending lawsuit had spoiled the mood.

Brian had given me the names of a couple of attorneys he thought would do a good job for me. This being Sunday, I'd have to wait until tomorrow to call one. I'd promised Brian I wouldn't wait any longer than that, but I'm an expert at procrastination, and I was betting something would come up and give me an excuse not to.

After giving up all hope of a roll in the hay, I left Brian's and went back to my apartment, where I busied myself with such exciting tasks as cleaning the toilet.

About the only time I'll act all housewifey is when I'm under a lot of strain. The fact that my apartment was already spotless was a testament to what my life had been like lately.

At around three o'clock, the front desk called to let me know I had a visitor: Adam White. Adam's the Director of Special Forces, the branch of the Philly police department that's responsible for demon-related crime. He's also a demon who's into S&M, heavy on the S, and one of Lugh's chief supporters. Too bad he and I get along about as well as your typical snake and mongoose.

The last thing I wanted to deal with was another verbal sparring session with Adam, but he wouldn't have stopped by just for a social call. He had something important to talk to me about, and hearing him out was the only responsible option.

Because I'm completely paranoid—with good reason, I might add—I checked the peephole to make sure it really was Adam before I opened the door to let him in.

Despite the fact that I disliked Adam and that the feeling was mutual, I couldn't help noticing how scrumptious he looked. All legal demon hosts are good-looking—the Spirit Society thinks it's beneath a demon's dignity to reside in someone unattractive—but Adam's looks definitely pushed my buttons. He was the classic tall, dark, and handsome, with a super-sized serving of bad boy on top. He was obviously off duty today, wearing a pair of heavily faded blue jeans and a white oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. My inventory of his appearance came to a screeching halt when I saw the manila folder tucked under his right arm.

The last time he'd shown up at my place with a manila folder, he'd blithely shown me some of the most gruesome crime scene photos you could imagine. It had slipped his mind that as a civilian, I wasn't used to looking at images of people whose insides weren't inside anymore, and it had been all I could do not to hurl.

Adam chuckled softly when he saw me staring at the folder. "No, these aren't more crime scene photos," he assured me.

I hated that my train of thought had been that obvious, but by now I was beginning to believe I'd never learn to keep everything I'm thinking from flashing across my face like the CNN crawl.

"Glad to hear it," I said, trying to sound casual as I gestured him in.

He nodded his thanks and headed for my dining room table, laying the folder down and flipping it open. Despite his assurances, my subconscious clearly didn't trust him, because I had to fight my instinct to look away.

The first thing I saw was an eight-by-ten photo of a pretty, perky blond woman. I recognized her immediately as Barbara Paige, aka Reporter Barbie. Actually, I was going to have to stop calling her Reporter Barbie, because we'd established beyond a shadow of a doubt that she wasn't a reporter, despite her claims.

She'd started following me around and asking questions shortly after the Maguire exorcism. I hadn't seen her in the weeks since then, though I often felt like I was being watched. But again, that could just be my paranoia speaking.

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University. Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like 80% of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating. Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation.

From the Paperback edition.

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Speak of the Devil (Morgan Kingsley Series #4) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
kitkat3ny More than 1 year ago
I strongly suggest you read the previous books (Devil Inside, The Devil You Know and The Devil's Due) in order before reading this installment. In the cruel world that Jenna Black has built, humans can legally register and volunteer to host demons. Some great upsides for humans, when possessed they become nearly indestructible, and are able to achieve and contribute many great things to humanity. However, some downsides to human possession are they cease control of decision making and motor functions, are usually aware and helpless to control what is happening around them and are basically reduced to ride as passengers in their own body. Morgan Kingsley is the strongest exorcist in her profession but since she's been possessed by Lugh, the King of the Demons involuntarily, her career has taken a nose dive. Unfortunately for Morgan, things are about to get a lot worse than her poor diet of Ramen noodles. She has a stalker who has been very good at making her life hell. This stalker is responsible for Morgan being personally sued for a exorcism gone wrong, has evilly vandalized her car, perversely sends her presents of severed body parts and successfully sets out to take everything she loves away from her, including Brian. While I enjoyed this installment immensely, I had to deduct a star. Morgan Kingsley exhibits qualities that I hate in a heroine and after all this time has not grown much personally. She is still a tad bit whiny, over abundantly sassy with tendencies of being too-stupid-to-live and the worse of her atrocities, her mind is as thick and as impenetrable to common sense as a solid brick wall. She often overreacts and blows her gasket, still misses the obvious and is way too stubborn. Despite these vastly annoying qualities, this was still a fabulous installment. The premise alone of demons being from another realm existing solely as incorporeal entities of energy is fascinating. The story was fast paced, exciting, interesting and creative. I highly recommend this book and series to dark urban fantasy readers and look forward to the next installment The Devil's Playground due out 2/23/2010.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Demons travel to the mortal realm and possess a body like the demon King Lugh resides in the body of American's foremost exorcist Morgan Kingsley. Lugh is trapped in Morgan's body because his brother Dougel wants to wear the demon crown and can only become the king if the monarch dies. Morgan has her own woes, but even she admits they pale next to that of her "guest". An exorcism killed the host Jordan Maguire Junior; senior is suing Morgan for negligence and wrongful death. As soon as the suit was filed, the US Exorcism Board suspended Morgan's license pending an investigation. Matters turn worse when someone sends her a human arm. Morgan knows someone is after her as the assaults escalate and she fears she will be framed for murder. Lugh's war council does their best to protect Morgan because if she dies, their king returns to his realm where his sibling waits to kill him. As Morgan's stalker keeps the pressure on her, the person also threatens her loved ones. Jenna Black is consistently one of the best urban fantasists on the market today with her kick butt heroine being kicked around this time. The irony of this entertaining saga is Morgan's job is exorcising demons out of humans and back to their realm while she has the ruling demon inside her. This time her troubles overflow to her family and friends as an unknown assailant has her on the ropes. Although the overarching Cain and Abel demonic rivalry barely moves forward, fans of Kim Harrison and Jacquelyn Frank will enjoy the escapades of Morgan Kingsley, exorcist extraordinaire. Harriet Klausner
tiggerdavis1970 More than 1 year ago
AMAZING!!! FANTASTIC!!!! PERFECTION!!! Those are just a few adjectives to describe Book 4, Speak of the Devil! It is a page turner until the very end! I could not put it down! I do suggest that you do read them in order though. I highly recommend this book and this series to everyone who likes this genre!
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First, I'll say I've really enjoyed this series. The tension between Morgan and Lugh is great. The tension between Morgan and Adam is great. The tension between everyone and Raphael is great. I like Brian's loyalty to Morgan and his own principles. But, that has also been a problem for me. Brian's constant willingness to take whatever Morgan dishes out purposefully or not, has made him one dimensional and a well, frankly a doormat. Finally, finally, finally he gets a clue! Finally, finally, finally Morgan succumbs to the stress and chaos of her life. The tough nothing gets in ever shell finally dissolves and she acts...human. Finally she sets her annoying pride aside. But, like I said I really enjoy the series. I wish Morgan's pride could have taken a back seat earlier in the series. Looking forward to reading the next and I think final book!
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