KNOWN DEVIL: Truth, Humor and Politics


KNOWN DEVIL Occult Investigations Series #3

Published by Angry Robot

UK Date: 6th February 2014  Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback

US/CAN Date: 28th January 2014 Formats: (Mass-Market) Paperback, Epub & Mobi 384 Pages


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Angry Robot  Justin Gustainis

At Amazon  At B & N



Meet Stan Markowski or the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit.

“My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

“A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton and it looks like I’m going to have to work with the current mob to prevent a demonic gang war.

“If there’s one thing I hate more than living with supernatural scumbags, it’s working with them! But you know that they say, better the devil you know…” Angry Robot

… A street drug has proven addictive to supernaturals, with a resulting crime wave as the creatures of the night struggle to get drug money. The first Stan and Karl learn about this is when a couple of elves stick up Jerry’s Diner while they are inside on their coffee break. Further, the local Mafia “family” is under attack from a group of interlopers who seek to take over, resulting in gun battles and car bombs in the city streets. And then there’s the Patriot Party, a group of proto-fascists who seek to gain control of this city government in the forthcoming election. Stan Markowski has his hands full—and he doesn’t even know who the real enemy is yet. Justin Gustainis



My Take!

You know when you wonder about what’s happening with someone and then suddenly you hear from them a couple of days later? That’s how I learned about Justin’s new book in his Paranormal Police Procedural with a grittier than Dragnet feeling.

I had reviewed both of the other books in the series and really enjoyed both. Somehow I was looking at a graphic that reminded me of the series and thought to myself, “Hmm, wonder if Justin has a new book coming out?”

The answer presented itself shortly in the form of an e-mail shortly thereafter.  Who am I to question fate?  And the “Devil I know” in this case has been good.

The title here comes in in an interesting way involving what I imagine is a sad truth for law enforcement:  Criminals are bad, and the world would be better without them, but when you have a known criminal element that isn’t the worst of the bunch, leaving that in place rather than allowing a totally new, worse element, or elements,  in is probably preferable.

I usually read books by women, featuring women most often with romance as the major feature.  This series is written by a man, and from a man’s, Stan Markowski’s, Point of View.   It’s also pretty much strictly Urban Fantasy with a few romantic references but no kissing or hugging. The only romance is that nostalgic feeling brought on by its Dragnet-feel.

Stan is a great guy, and above average but regular kind of guy.  He lives with his daughter, Christine, a vampire.  His partner, Kyle, is also a vampire.  The police in Scranton have a witch on staff.  Yup, in this world the Supernaturals are “out.”

No sex?!?! That’s cool; to be honest, as much as I like reading romance and erotica, it’s relaxing to read something where  when a channel is referred to it’s as a channel of communication or a number on a TV dial. No one has sex in the book, although the language is far from mild, and there is some non-gratuitous violence.

Some of my favorite  female authors write men too macho, too hard and too crude; too much like little boys playing war, but with dirtier minds.  So it’s great to read a hero written by a male; it is usually a little more realistic.  But, while Justin doesn’t write from a woman’s point of view his female characters feel right as well.

Being  Dragnet style, with a film-noir edge, a lot of the story is dialogue driven; conveying emotion and information through interaction. While some of the reasoning occurs as an internal monologue, much of the mystery of the case is discussed rather than presented. Stan interacts with a lot of people, his partner, Karl, his daughter, Christine, his boss, perps, suspects, informants, people intent on killing him.  It is certainly well-written, with a lot of subtle humor.

Justin does a lot of foreshadowing — a set-up that brings the reader to nearly the same conclusion as the detectives, with a few surprises on the way.  This is a harder Stan, a less by the book guy than I remember from the previous stories.  Things are getting tougher in Scranton, and protecting the city, nation and supes, and the people he loves means the white gloves come off.  Sometimes, to get the job done he has to do things I don’t remember Stan from previous books in the series doing.  But, there’s too much of a threat here.

I saw a strong political moral in the story.  Puppetmaster, right-wing elements are evident and there is a strong correlation with the current real life political climate.  I liked that a lot; sometimes you need fiction to clarify reality.

It was an enjoyable and well-written read in the series. I like that Stan is changing and adapting to the changes in the world around him, even if it’s making him color outside the lines a little.  I thought the ending was a little abrupt and perhaps a little too pat.  I highly recommend this to people who want something a little gritty, a little dark, a bit nostalgic and different from the average Urban Fantasy novel.

Other Books in This Series:

1. Hard Spell (July 2011)

2. Evil Dark (May 2012) see review and tour on old blog by clicking below