I can be fickle when selecting the next book to read and I find that covers or titles often grab my attention and draw me to a book even when I know little to nothing about what the book was about. This was the case with “City of devils” by Justin Robinson. While I had never read anything by the author and did not know what the book was about, the title and cover grabbed my attention and made me dive into the advanced reading copy of the novel I had as quickly as possible.
Nick Moss is a unique man. He is not unique because he is a private detective but rather because he is a human. The world has been overrun by monsters and the humans are becoming more and more scarce. It is a very dangerous world and the relatively powerless humans tend to stay toward the edges of society to avoid the monsters and robots that run rampant. They are protected when the sun is up but are left to hide in their homes at night. Moss has carved a niche for himself in searching for missing humans, who he usually finds have been turned to monsters, but this is all going to change when movie star comes into his office.
Imogen Verity is also far from normal. This is not due to the fact that she is a doppelganger who can take the form of anything that she wants but for the fact that she is the most successful actress in Hollywood. Imogen has a problem, however, as her husband has disappeared and she wants Moss to find him for her before the police arrest her for murder. Moss is hesitant to take the job as he is a human who normally looks for missing humans while Imogen’s husband is not human. Not only is he a city councilman, he is also a mummy. With little more than a small pile of sand on the windowsill in his study to start with, Moss must discover what happened to Imogen’s husband and clear her name before he himself is murdered or, even worse, turned into a monster.
When I saw the cover for “City of devils,” I thought that the book looked like it would be a fun book to read and I was right. This book was a blast. While it was not a great book, Robinson takes the standard private investigator story and launches it into a world of monsters. All of the old P.I. clichés are present with the down-on-his-luck detective, an attractive receptionist that dreams of a much better life, and a beautiful client that sweeps in with an impossible job that will change our hero’s life. The big difference here is that all of the characters are monsters except for the detective and he is reluctantly thrown into a case that will try his skills as well as put his life in peril at every turn. He knows that he is in over his head and that he never should have taken the job in the first place but he just does not know how to say no to a paying job.
“City of devils” is an exciting and fun-filled romp through a world of monsters as told by one human who is holding on to his life and humanity by the thinnest of threads. Robinson crafts a uniquely interesting world that is sure to please horror, science fiction, and mystery fans alike. The story does have flaws but Robinson keeps it going at a breakneck pace that does not allow the reader to take the time to search for these flaws. Overall, the story runs smoothly and left me wanting for more. I hope that Robinson returns to this world in the future and further fleshes out the characters and beings that inhabit it. With so many books simply relying on the tried and true, Robinson takes the old tropes about monsters and turns them on their ear to craft an exciting tale. While I had never read any of Robinson’s works in the past, I am sure to seek them out in the future for more exciting adventures and, hopefully, for more adventures of Moss and the strange world that he has found himself trapped in.
I would like to give a special thank you to NetGalley and Candlemark & Gleam for this advanced reading copy. “City of devils” will be available from Candlemark & Gleam on September 24, 2013.