Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Book Review: Ten For The Devil by Deborah R Mitton

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Synopsis (from the author): Ten For The Devil is a labyrinthine murder/revenge ride from an idyllic English Village to the industrious shipbuilding port of Saint John, NB (then St. John), in the newly formed country of Canada, over a span of fifty years.

Chief Inspector Michael McLaughlin has believed that his nemesis was dead, but discovers that Seth 
Shaw is alive and in the very city that Michael and his family are visiting. His loves ones at risk, Michael closes in on a collision course with a serial murderer while the city is in flames.
Book 1 - Michael was an eleven year old boy when he witnessed a murder and the lives of the families - friends, of both our murderer and witness are intertwined throughout generations from 1850 to modern day. 

A dark tale of obsession, revenge, murder, seduction, a love curse, reparation and survival. Our young boy grows up to join Scotland Yard and is obsessed with bringing Seth Shaw to justice. There is a sense of paranormal forces at work protecting our villain. 
The story’s climax will occur during the fire of June 20, 1877: a fire - second - only in size and damages to the famous Boston fire.

Review: Reading many books over the years, I cannot quite recall coming across a stronger representation of evil than the primary antagonist in Ten For The Devil. The story itself is a truly remarkable work in depth and in scope. This is the first book in the series and yet manages to cover a huge amount of time within this one volume.

Reading it back, and actually feeling sorry for Seth, I wondered why he had become so evil? We hear in modern media that the reason killers do what they do can be explained away through some medical imbalance in the brain. Others may state there was an emotional disconnect at home, where the father constantly beat the child for every minor infraction, or the mother never offered a simple hug.

In Ten For The Devil, I think the answer is far more simple. The main antagonist is evil, but not pure and certainly not simple.

I found it remarkable how the author drafted other characters into the story, some  who were an unknown witness to several brutal and unnerving kills, and as the reader I felt like I was over their shoulder too - that if the antagonist saw me reading this stuff, he would come after me too.

No-one is safe from his brutal ways, yet he displays many signs of  the psychopath - he is self assured, full of himself, has a total lack of respect for all kinds of life, and is vain in the extreme.

This is, however, just one facet of the story, and it would be inaccurate to list Ten For The Devil as a one man show. I will admit, however, that as rotten as he was, I missed him when he was not part of the narrative.

The story ends satisfyingly, though there is a lot more to come from the author, the extremely talented Deborah R Mitton.

Ten For The Devil features bizarre and sometimes distasteful elements of romance,  but in no way does the author try to colour her main baddie with shades of grey. Yes, he is handsome, charming, disarming. But he is also a killer, and we must never forget that. 

He is not someone you can root for, but you cannot ignore him either.

The story does not lack humour though, and one of the lines I liked:-

Referring to Pastor Brown: 'His voice carried the whole breadth and width of the church and a parishioner had once speculated that the pigeons in the bell tower flew to safer perches when he preached.'

But it is full of beautiful lines like this, too:-

The candle on the side table gave the sleeping pair a halo of golden light before it flickered and died, enveloping the room in darkness.

The book is choc-full of lines like this. Eerily beautiful, I have to say.

Beautiful, eerie, strange, dark, deliciously compelling. Buy Ten For The Devil today!