Written by: David Devereux
Published by: Hachette
by David Devereux
is the journal of a man up to his neck in the super-secret world of counter supernatural espionage. He says his real name isn’t important, and for the sake of convenience just to call him Jack – so that’s what we’ll do.
Jack is an operative of “Special Branch”, an elite British agency tasked specifically to deal with things that most people don’t know exist and wouldn’t believe if they saw it with their own eyes. Like so many of these kinds of organizations, they don’t officially exist; they’re so secret even MI5 isn’t cleared to know about them.
They are something like the Men in Black, or the White Council of the Dresden Files – an organization pledged to defend humanity from the various dark and alien forces bent on destroying it. They’re a little different in a few respects though. These guys are hard core to the bone; when in doubt, kill everything that moves. They’ve got blood on their hands and fire in their eyes, and they wouldn’t think twice about killing you if they just thought you knew too much. In fact, you’d be getting off easy if they just killed you instead of working you over with torture techniques mundane and supernatural to find out exactly what you knew and whether or not you’d talked to anybody else about it. If they weren’t satisfied with what they got out of you before you kicked the bucket, they might even conjure your spirit and torture you some more, perhaps even destroying your soul completely in the process. These are the type of people that are all about “the mission” – they’ll kill anybody, even their own people, at the drop of a hat.
These guys are serious.
Most of the time their work entails dealing with people (cults) who have the knowledge and opportunity to use supernatural means for foul purposes. Sometimes the motive is the run of the mill quest for power, but often it’s just to wreak havoc for its own sake. At other times it could be bending the power of magic to rein death and destruction directly, or perhaps summoning some shambling horror to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
Jack is a field agent, on the front line and as he puts it, “hip deep in the shit.” He’s cold blooded, methodical, and meticulous. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have survived as long as he has. In the line of duty he’s killed more people than small pox and done things, despicable things, that could turn your stomach. Needless to say, he is not a hero and he knows it. The things that he’s done and must do bar him forever from that title. God might save the Queen, but Jacks’ probably going strait to hell.
If the “hero” is this nasty, what must the villain(s) be like, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you; “The Enlightened Sisterhood” is a coven of mentally bent witches indulging in bizarre sex magic rituals, led by a brain-washing expert so twisted and dangerous she even scared the puhjeezus out of her former bosses at the CIA. Bosses who she “persuaded” into cutting let her loose in the world with a fresh start and a new identity, complete with a brand-new, surgically reconstructed face. Ah, our tax dollars at work.
The activities of this little freak-show have put them on the radar at Special Branch, and Jack gets the assignment: back up a rookie deep cover agent who’s been assigned to infiltrate the coven. If she finds out they’re being naughty, Jacks orders are to “close them down” which actually means “kill them all.”
I’ll tell you flat out it doesn’t take long for things to get twisted, and there are pretty graphic depictions of “mental conditioning” utilizing sexual torture that people in the BDSM sub-culture might find appealing, but the rest of us… not so much. To sum it up, I told my wife our 12 year old son (who likes to read these books when I’m done with them) couldn’t have this one because “If it was a movie, I would say it’s the bastard love-child of The Wicker Man and 8MM”.
So, with that warning out of the way I’ll say this: if you don’t mind terribly that the protagonist is an amoral bastard and that vividly described, mind-bending sexual deviancy is pretty much central to the plot, there is enough other stuff to this book to make it interesting. You might not like the protagonist or anyone else in the book for that matter, but in the end just wanting to know what the hell is going on will give you as much reason to turn the pages as likable characters would have.
Just make sure you don’t leave it lying around where your 6th grader can pick it up.
by Matthew Walker – Staff Writer
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”no” align=”center” asin=”1455838047″ cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″]