Fiction Reviews

Evil Ways

(2009) Justin Gustainis, Solaris, £7.99, pbk, 444 pp, ISBN 978-1-84416-766-1

Okay, here we go, this is Evil Ways, subtitled 'a Morris and Chastain Investigation', which is the sequel to Black Magic Woman, and doesn’t that Quincey Morris look a bit of a hunk on the cover? A mop of black hair, strong nose, hooded-eyes and probably some designer stubble on his straight jaw, if only we could only see through the shadow across his face. He has got the looks and the pose, while his partner – white witch – Libby Chastain seems to be wearing her nightie and is juggling with some bats. Go Libby. In fact, Libby is not the only white witch in this novel, which is just as well as someone is bumping them off and also small children as well.

White witches seem to be everywhere because here comes FBI Agent Fenton who has a new partner, Colleen O’Donnell, who just happens to be…you guessed it, another white witch, although Fenton does not know that- yet! Billionaire Walter Grobius is dying and the only way he can stop it is to enlist the services of black magician, Pardee, and once Agent Fenton figures out what is happening, or rather he knows that white witches are being killed and body parts are being taken from dead children then it is time to call in Morris and Chastain, especially since some thugs have tried to take Libby out, despite the protection she has weaved around her apartment.

So the good guys are on the case, going to Iraq and stopping off at the pub of a certain Chicago wizard as they race towards a confrontation on Walpurgis Night. And the nod to Jim Butcher is perfectly apt. Is it me? Or do the guys – Butcher, Carey, Simon R. Green, write darker urban fantasy/horror than the ladies? Discuss. Suffice to say, Evil Ways is a good read, with interesting characters, some interesting new characters (look out for the Widowmaker), some character development (though not sure making our heroes advisers to the FBI is a smart move, not so much the X-Files as the “woo woo cases”). A tough, fast, gripping read.

Ian Hunter

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