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Hell’s Detective by Michael Logan

Kat Murphy is a private detective tortured by demons. Real ones. She is serving a death sentence in Lost Angeles, the dark and depraved city in Hell where a beast known as a Torment forces her to relive, night after night, the moment she killed her lover and put a bullet in her own skull.

Kat longs to make amends for her sins. So when the city’s Chief Administrator hires her to retrieve a stolen box with a mysterious power, offering to call off her Torment in return, she gets the chance to do just that.

But if Kat has learned one thing, it’s that every case has a wrinkle. As she trawls drug dens, casinos, and fighting pits in search of the thief, she discovers that both box and city contain secrets darker than she could ever have imagined. And with time running out, Kat must choose between her own desire for peace and the fate of the world above in Hell’s Detective, the electrifying new mystery from award-winning author Michael Logan.

I’ve been a fan of Michael Logan’s writing for a while now, I can heartily recommend his magnum opus Apocalypse Cow and its sequel World War Moo. It’s probably no surprise then when I confirm I always look forward to anything new from him. His latest is a move away from the horrors of bovine zombification and towards a grittier sub-genre all together, something I’m going to nickname Hellish Noir.

Meet Kat Murphy, a detective in life who hasn’t let taking a bullet to the brain stop her from her chosen profession. It turns out that even the damned need assistance solving crimes from time to time, and Kat is the person who can offer that help. I warmed to her immediately. Kat has that down beat, world weary approach to her job that every good detective seems to exhibit. There is also her limpet like tenacity and zero fucks given attitude to contend with. She is more than a match for any criminal Hell has to offer. Just as well, as things are about to get a little complicated.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Lost Angeles*. Not a massive surprise as the city’s inhabitants are a uniformly nasty bunch. Stuck in a permanent 1950s, Lost Angeles is split into multiple districts, each overseen by a crime boss. Each of these capos focus on a different aspect of sin. One looks after all the gambling, another manages all the drugs and yet another looks after prostitution and so on. You get the idea. Now part of you might be thinking that doesn’t quite so bad. There’s plenty of debauchery to go around for everyone, irrespective of which sin is your favourite flavour. Being a guest at the ultimate sin-fest when you’re a sinner doesn’t sound all that terrible does it. Thing is, there is one huge caveat when it comes to residing in Hell. Every individual is visited regularly by their own unique Torment. These visitations mean they must re-live over and over the reasons that got them sent to Hell in the first place. Suddenly it doesn’t sound quite so rosy, does it? Imagine, if every night you’d have to face the worst parts of your own character. The nasty things that most of us try to ignore and would rather not remember.  If it wasn’t difficult enough being a detective already, Kat needs to try and navigate this morass of sleaze to uncover who is behind the theft. Solving a case in Hell was never going to be easy.

I only have one criticism of Hell’s Detective, and it is a minor one at that. Kat’s character is well realised, but I think some of the secondary characters could have been a bit more fleshed out. A place like Lost Angeles is going to have so much backstory, I’d like to see that reflected in the city’s other denizens. I suppose this is something that could be explored further if the characters return in the future. I can imagine meeting some of Hell’s senior management would also be very cool.

Part old school detective story, part subtle horror, I had a lot of fun with Hell’s Detective. Michael Logan rounds things off nicely, bringing the story to a suitable close yet setting things up for this to become a possible ongoing series. I do hope so. It turns out I very much enjoy hard boiled crime noir with a devilish twist. Hell’s Detective has bucket loads of potential and I’d love to see this grow into something bigger.

I found myself flip-flopping between two albums when it came to soundtrack choice to accompany Hell’s Detective, so I’ve decided to suggest both. I recommend listening to either Gangster Squad by Steve Jablonsky or Detective Stories by Rob Hauser. Both are more than noir-ish enough to fit.

If you’ve tried and enjoyed the Sandman Slim novels of Richard Kadrey, or The Devil’s Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth, then I reckon you’ll get a kick from Kat Murphy’s adventures.

Hell’s Detective is published by Crooked Lane Books and is available from June 13th.

*Ok, perhaps not the most wretched (apologies to all Star Wars fans) but certainly a close 2nd.

Hell’s Detective: A Mystery

New From: £12.40 GBP In Stock

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