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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells (John Cleaver book 4)

The Devil's Only Friend  
by Dan Wells 
Tor Books 
General Fiction (Adult)

John Wayne Cleaver returns... this time with a posse. Of sorts. He's working with a team of special investigators to uncover serial killers who are actually demons in disguise.

I read this prior to reading the first novel in the first trilogy. Like many series mysteries, the books can be read without prior knowledge of earlier novels although it might be better appreciated as a series.

This is the first in a new trilogy for Mr. Cleaver. He's grown up (or getting there at 17) and working for an organization investigating the supernatural, so they can't reveal themselves to the police. Included are Nathan, genius but not well liked; Kelly, their cop in residence; Diana, security specialist from the USAF; Linda, leader of US's secret war against the supernatural; Brooke, possessed by an ancient demon named Nobody, which knows a lot about the demons or the "Withered" they are pursuing.

Their first test is a Withered kidnapping a girl Another kills children. Who is it? And how is it done? But these Withereds are only warm-up acts for a much more powerful one concealed behind others.

What works for the novel are the speculative eye-kicks. Wells develops these demons and their history in surprising ways. A broader sense of the secret world is slowly peeled back. What's not as strong is the narrative voice. The first novel concentrated on the voice with humorous dark edge. Some of that humor is still here, but far more sparse.

To an extent, this is more of a mystery in whodunnit department than the first novel. However, it's hard to say that the novel is intended to "play fair" as far as giving enough clues that the reader might have guessed.

Can you get by reading this novel without the earlier books? Yes, but I'm not sure you'd want to.

The latest novel in the series is Over your Dead Body. Impoverished, Cleaver and Brooke, with the hundred-thousand personalities that her demon Nobody stole over the millennia, head off on a road trip on the trail of another Withered. They hunt demons. On their own.

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