The Devil You Know – by Mike Carey

I had to cut bait on Connie Willis‘ The Doomsday Book.  After reading half way through a 575 page book, I finally realized that a comedy of manners about time-travel into medieval Oxford was not going to do it for me.  I believe it is a fine work of literature and the author an artist of exceptional talent, but, personally speaking, I needed a bit more sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

All that being said, I landed a pretty good title with Mike Carey‘s The Devil You Know.  Carey became known to me via his work on the DC/Vertigo comic Hellblazer, which itself is a spinoff from the iconic Saga of Swamp Thing and Sandman series.  Carey wrote John Constantine, the Hellblazer himself, as a wonderfully sarcastic anti-hero in a trench coat, prone to making VERY bad decisions, but also possessing a surprisingly strong moral compass.

Felix Castor is John Constantine, but belonging solely to Carey.  In Hellblazer, Carey has to conform to a character that is not of his creation and managed by several authors over time.  With Castor, Carey is the boss from word go.

Castor also operates in a slightly different professional capacity.  Whereas Constantine made a living going back and forth between the temporal plane and the underworld, Castor is merely a privateer exorcist, using his tin whistle to move the undead away from a haunted realm to god-knows-where.  But that little moral qualm of “killing the dead”, along with a suitably wrecked personal life and a weakness for the ladies makes this Chandler-esque supernatural romp most enjoyable.