Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards in the Historical Fiction category, Devil Knows: A Tale of Murder and Madness in America’s First Century is a mystery-in-the-archives thriller written with great charm and cinematic flair.
In the dead of night at the height of the 1692 Salem mania, a dying smallpox victim collapses in prison while visiting a witch condemned to hang – Mary Bradbury, the great ancestor of famed writer Ray Bradbury.
A delirious old man, Hopestill Foster, is brought before the Rev. Cotton Mather, the infamous witch-hunter and the most powerful man in ancient Boston, for a very private interrogation. Mather is desperate for answers about Foster’s past because he knows it ties into his own.
Better had he not asked.
Over the course of the prisoner telling his story to the cleric, 60 years of a terrible history unfolds, at the heart of which is a monstrous secret about Mather’s family that must not be allowed to escape the room where Foster is being held.
Hopestill Foster, the novel's protagonist, a man inured to a lifetime of suffering and one to whom a great wrong was done by him and to him in his youth, ultimately has to decide. Pass on, leaving the wreckage of his life behind, or accept a final deadly mission to make things right.
For Hopestill Foster, there is only one choice.
David Joseph Kolb’s Devil Knows: A Tale of Murder and Madness in America’s First Century, a thrilling historical adventure in the grand storytelling tradition of Northwest Passage and Drums Along the Mohawk, breaks new literary ground about the very first American century - a nearly forgotten post-Pilgrim past when intolerance, misogyny and ignorance culminated in horrifying outrages against ordinary people.
Yet it rediscovers, too, that hope was never lost, and that heroes were always among us.