Friday, 6 January 2017

The Devil's Lieutenant, by Shervin Jamil - a review

In the blink of an eye, Michael loses his family. As his life spirals out of control with grief, he is presented with the possibility that their souls might be trapped in Hell.

Thus begins an unimaginable and nightmarish journey to rescue his family from the depths of Hell, with the Devil as the puppet master pulling his strings.

The Devil's Lieutenant is the debut novella from writer, Shervin Jamali. And, blimey, it packs a punch. Here is a sense of what I mean - from the very opening page:

     I walk into the apartment with my standard greeting.

    'Daddy's home.'

    The scene that greets me would forever be etched into my brain: my five year old son, dead on the floor, laying in a pool of blood; my wife kneeling beside him with a gun in her hands, still smoking, my gun, the one I keep in the bedroom safe.

    'What have you done?'

    She looks up at me, tears streaming down her cheeks. I draw my gun from my holster, and aim for her head, just as she lifts the one she is holding to her mouth. I fire, but so does she, and her bullet accomplishes what mine was intended for. She falls backwards, as my shot blasts through her throat senselessly. I rush to my son, pick him up in my arms, crushing him against my chest, sobbing uncontrollably.

    That was five years ago. I used to be a cop.

Bang. And on it goes. Relentless. But just as you think this is going to be just another one of those noir descents into self-destruction, it all goes supernatural - in a fantasically brilliant way. The Devil turns up. And the Devil wants something from Michael. Oh, Michael will get something in return, so the Devil says, but, you know, this is the Devil talking, offering you something, the only thing, you want. Michael signs up, and bang, bang, bang . . . the pages turn and the Devil gets his way.

As a writer, Jamali puts me in mind of the brilliant Josh Stallings and his incredible Moses McGuire trilogy in terms of writing with such courage, such brutality, yet such humanity. Yes, this book is violent, and Michael does some violent things, but this is a man that has seen everyone he loves die before him. When the ending comes, the twist that turns the dagger in your gut, you will be floored. As I was.

The Devil's Lieutenant is available from Amazon UK on Kindle here and in paperback here 
Amazon US has the Kindle version here and the paperback edition here

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