Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vicious Circle by Michael Carey – The Review

Recently I actually managed to read a book without pictures. I read so many comics for the blog and personal enjoyment that an actual book is something of a rarity. But, when I do read a book, I make sure that I am reading something of quality. Simply stated, Vicious Circle, is a quality book well worth your time.

Vicious Circle is actually the second book in a series about private investigator/exorcist named Felix Castor. In Castor’s world, ghosts are common, as are most supernatural events. It’s not uncommon for zombie’s to be roaming around, both good and bad, along with werewolf’s, and all sorts of undead. Castor has the rare ability to dispel ghosts so his services are in high demand. Actually, Castor’s services were in high demand, now he’s just a down on his luck exorcist. The story starts as Castor is hired to find a missing girl. This seems ordinary enough until we learn that the little girl is a ghost who has been kidnapped. Things are not what they seem, and the books takes many twists and turns straight until a very tense ending.

If it seems like I didn’t give you much about the story, it’s because I didn’t. The entire book is one giant twist and mystery after another. There are layers and layers of crosses and doubles crosses and characters connected by the thinnest of margins. There is no simple way to tell the story without giving away major parts of it.

This is crime noir with more than a hint of the supernatural. Castor is cut from the Philip Marlowe cloth as a hard boiled, if somewhat unlucky detective. Or Exorcist-detective in this case. As a hero, Castor is not without his flaws. He does the right thing, even though the right thing isn’t always easy. There are several times when the choices involve doing what’s right even and hurting his friends or letting strangers die. As I said, not easy choices at all.

I truly enjoyed the complexity of the story. While it was a quick read, it wasn't your typical summer beach reading, crime thriller. Everytime I felt that I knew what was going to happen next, Carey through a twist or a turn that kept me turning page after page. There were no wasted characters. Heck, there wasn’t any wasted space at all. The clues were all there and I was mad at myself for missing some of them along the way.

In comic book terms, Carey mixed the complex plots from his magnificent Lucifer series with the grittiness of John Constantine. If you get a chance to read a book this year, this book guarantees that you will be entertained.

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