How does an Investigation Man find a murderer in Hell? That question alone drew me into this novel following Thomas Fool, an information man (i.e. detective) for Hell. And the ride was really quite wonderful.
We’re introduced to Fool as he welcomes a delegation of four angels from Heaven, who have come for the regular Elevations in which souls are taken to Heaven. Unfortunately, he has to split his time between escorting them places and investigating a new murder, where a demon is devouring the souls of humans rather than just killing them. Fool tours all of Hell in his search for the culprit and we as readers are shown all the horrors of a Hell that has evolved from the Hell we normally think of.
Hell is a very chaotic place and as the reader, you are really left floundering trying to figure out just what is going on, especially in the first few chapters. How the society is set up and how people and punishments for sins are decided are never fully explained. But once you kind of get your bearings and get used to the fact you aren’t going to know everything, then it gets a whole lot better. Unsworth parses out the necessary information for understanding Hell and its workings in such a way that you can really let go and enjoy the story.
Now, this novel falls in the realm of Horror for sure and that’s apparent. But it is also equally a mystery novel, which I don’t have as much experience in reading. With that being said, I found myself suspecting the actual murderer early on and then confirming it long before Fool did, which was cool in one sense but also a bit of a letdown in another. I wanted to be left guessing a little longer and needing to go back and see all the hints and clues I missed along the way. But maybe that’s just my personal preference.
My favorite aspects of the novel revolved around Thomas Fool and his character development. The word “fool” is used repeatedly by the author as a way to show how little Fool knows. And once Fool has actually started to get the hang of investigating, it shows his lack of confidence in himself. Fool as a character experiences growth throughout the novel, going from kind of an annoying character to one that is inspiring and a leader. It’s really intriguing watching this guy who starts out wanting to just fly under the radar and not be noticed to a true detective trying to find answers and eventually to a leader of both humans and demons.
In some aspects, this story really blew my mind and in others, I was a little less than impressed. But for a first novel, all in all I enjoyed it. And by the time I got to the end of the book and saw the big reveal, I was definitely taken by surprise and will request the second book through my local library.
I give it a solid 3.5/5 stars.