We all have our own personal version of hell. For some Hell is other people, for others, hell is the drudgery of an unfulfilling job. For writers, hell can be a goldmine of ideas and inspiration, hopefully allowing the author to create a unique and fascinating vision of Nether region. Sadly in some cases, the author fluffs it am I pointing one giant finger at a certain Scarlet Gospels, thankfully we have writers like Simon Kurt Unsworth, whose vision and detailed world building are capable of creating a version of Hell that isn't torture to experience. Simon Kurt Unsworth's The Devil's Evidence is the sequel to his excellent novel The Devil's Detective, which sees him return to the Hell of one Thomas Fool, Hell's very own Miss Marple.
Fresh from being promoted to the head of Hell's Information Office, you would think that he would be happy, well as happy as one can be in hell. However, this promotion has brought new worries to his doorstep, new enemies, new feuds and now an impossible murder in Heaven all conspire to give the man with no memory of who he was and why he ended up in hell one rather hellish day at the office.
Unsworth created one the most exciting and ingenious visions of Hell in the previous book in this series, and withThe Devil's Evidence , he expands on this world building with even greater aplomb. The lavish and detailed world building is a joyous experience, which is carried on to his magnificent and smart portrayal of his vision of Heaven. Having said that if I had to chose between Heaven and Hell, I think I would rather be a denizen of Hell than of Heaven. The almost clinical and sterile Heaven that he has created seems to be a lot less fun than the dangerous and compelling Hell of this novel.
The Devil's Evidence skillfully creates an accomplished mix of full-blown horror with a world-weary, downbeat classic Noir detective novel. With Thomas Fool Unsworth has revitalised the well-worn detective trope, an arresting complex character, Fool is a fantastic protagonist on which to pin the narrative of the story.
Obviously he is not a good man, otherwise why is he in hell, but he remains stoic and true to his ideals and beliefs throughout this intriguing investigation. And even when the powers that be of both Heaven and Hell all seem to be standing in his way, he remains true to himself. One of the main strengths of the character is the way in which we know nothing about who he is, even after two novels we are still left with only tidbits and hints as to who he might have been in his former life. And to be honest, I'm not sure if we need to know, although I do want to know.
Unsworth has weaved a thrilling mystery, with plenty of twists and turned a boatload full of red herrings. He teases the readers with each narrative reveal holding their attention in a way that only a truly gifted writer can. Some of you may figure out the truth of the mystery early on in the story, but Unsworth's captivating lyrical writing style and imaginative flourishes, such as Fool's living tattoo that literally acts as a mouthpiece for Hell's bureaucracy, will still keep you hooked even after you have worked it out.
The Devil's Evidence builds on the strong foundations laid down by The Devil's Detective, to create a horrific mystery masterpiece. Intelligent plotting with some thoughtful discourse on the themes of good and evil and the way in which perspective can shift the dividing line between the two.
Filled with compelling characters and exciting set pieces The Devil's Evidence is a triumphant return to the best vision of Hell in the words of the late great Bon Scott
'If this is hell