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I liked this one. It deals with some unpleasant matters but does so without revelling in the gore. It's a police procedural with the supernatural being a driving force. It is sympathetic to a religious world view which is a pleasant change. Lots of well paced action. I liked the characters they were realistic without becoming clichés. Enough reveals to show that this series has legs.
Wow! This book was excellent. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a great mystery with horror and paranormal mixed in there. Saint Tommy is a likeable detective just doing his job when he's attacked by demons. Now they're after his family and those his family cares about. Read it to find out if he can save them.
I read a lot of urban fantasy. So much, in fact, that the cliches are beginning to wear thin. The protagonists are invariably socially marginal with an undeserved reputation for shadiness or nastiness, while secretly they are paladins, but they can never ever admit that they are enlisted on the side of the Good. They are always loners, usually outcast from powerful organizations as to which they have benefits of access and support. There is a tendency in these books to treat good and evil as Team A and Team B with no real difference between them so that the hero can stay neutral but not morally ambiguous. In these books, the heroes play at being bad. If you've read enough urban fantasy, you can think of the books that meet this definition. (I will leave a link to my review of Richard Kadrey's "Sandman Slim" in the comments as a classic of the type.)
It is a cognitive dissonance stew.
So, it's very nice to run into this book. The protagonist, Tommy Nolan, is an indisputable good guy. He is on the side of order. He enforces the law. He treats the perps he arrests with dignity as essentially good but twisted by circumstance to the bad.
He is, in fact, a saint, and with that comes the graces to fight unredeemed evil in the form of demons who possess humans unwise enough to give them access. The graces he has been given include bilocation and the ability to smell the reak of evil. He has been given these graces just in time to face a demonic outbreak east Queens.
I enjoyed this book. I thought the pacing and plotting ripped along and kept me interested, which is fundamental for an urban fantasy book. In addition, I liked the New York setting. I am the kind of reader who, when he gets factual details like geography and history, puts the book down downloads online maps and streetside photos to learn something about the setting. So, I enjoyed the New York details, which most may fly past as irrelevant.
I also enjoyed the Catholicness of this book. I am a Catholic - a western Catholic one generation removed from Queens and Brooklyn myself - so I enjoyed some of the quips, remarks and customs that author Finn shares. Like Tommy chiding himself for feeling guilty about not stopping a demon from murdering a friend because "I'm Catholic. Guilt is a thing."
Isn't it, though.
On the other hand, the villains are Catholic villains, including abortion doctors and the barely hidden largest of all abortion providers. Also, the main character goes into battle saying Catholic prayers. Without a doubt, this will set the teeth on edge of many readers, and not just those on the left, because it seems that we've been trained that it is uncouth or just not done to present Catholicism and Catholic values as real and good.
But that is a sign of narrow-mindedness, not open-mindedness. I've read many urban fantasy stories involving demon-fighting atheists or pagans. In such books, Catholic beliefs often are derided or written off ab initio, Certainly, it is never considered necessary to take Catholic beliefs as being serious in books about fighting demons, of all things.
So, consider this book as the balance on the scales. It seems refreshing in a book about fighting quintessentially supernatural evil entities to treat the idea of absolute Good as a reality.
But this book is not about my metaphysical musings. It's a ripping good tale.
This has all the action of this author’s A PIUS MAN, combined with fantasy and a well-thought-out system of Saintly charisms acting as superpowers for the highly likeable hero: not for him to use at his own whim, but acting whenever needed in the plan God has for him. Very enjoyable! I’m going to look for the next one in the series.
As Detective Thomas Nolan walked along the NY streets, a purse-snatcher he knew well grabbed a woman’s cell phone and purse and ran. But as the detective chased him, something odd occurred – he could see himself running ahead of Anthony, but at the same time standing in front of him while chasing behind him. He didn’t have time to think about that before he caught him. As he walked him to the precinct, Anthony asked how he got in front of him since he was pretty sure the detective was never that fast. But the detective had no answer for that.
Suddenly, Nolan smelled a vile stench that doubled him over, almost retching into a trashcan. No one else seemed affected by the smell. He sniffed around and found the source – a deathly skinny junkie named Simon Hayes. As he got near, the junkie sat up straight and roared in rage as he dislocated his thumb to remove the cuffs and hurled a cop across the room and through a window! He knocked another over with a night stick, then bellowed a strange language at Nolan and attacked. The two battled as other cops jumped into the fight to subdue him. It seemed nothing could contain him! He uttered the odd words and all the glass and computer screens shattered. Nolan wondered if the guy was on PCP or something!
Hayes moved close to Nolan’s face and said more strange words, grinning like a crazy person – or a demon from Hell! As Nolan responds that he doesn’t speak gibberish, he makes a silent prayer and Hayes stops smiling. The fight resumed and it seemed like Hayes was finally feeling some pain! And as Nolan muttered the words of the Rosary, Hayes screeched and writhed. Six large officers piled onto him and he was stopped, his eyes filled with rage and insanity! As they took Hayes away, Nolan remembered he hadn’t even signed in to work yet! It was going to be a rough day! Sure enough, by noon when officers checked on Hayes, they found him hanging from a light fixture by his makeshift pants-leg noose.
When a serial killer is on the loose in the city, Nolan’s abilities become critical. How can the killer be stopped? How can he be captured and contained? And what if he can’t be?
From the start, the hint of humor in the narration during the chase scene let me assume that this was probably going to be a good book, despite the dark overtones of the title. But when the fight scene at the precinct with the demon started, I was ready to scamper out of the way of the fight that made me feel I was right there! Powerful descriptive writing, as the whole scene appeared clearly in my mind and the chaos never stopped! Whew! Believe me, this is a book you’ll want to read, if only to see the mastery of words from this author. I was definitely impressed! What emerged was that Detective Thomas Nolan can actually smell evil, and he is a saint as he claims early on in the story. This book comes down to good versus evil, and I’m glad Nolan is on our side! Don’t miss this series!
A New York Police officer blessed with special powers must confront the powers of darkness and evil's human allies threatening his family and city. This remarkable pastiche of urban fantasy, horror, and police procedural delivers an amazingly powerful tale of good versus evil.
Gritty, violent crime novels are a dime a dozen - and cheaper than that on Kindle Unlimited. They tend to feature twisted troubled sociopathic heroes who direct their violent impulses in constructive ways against society's wrong doers. Think of Mickey Spillaine's Mike Hammer as the archetype for this genre, or Dexter as a more recent example.
Declan does a brilliant job portraying a stalwart family man blessed with special powers who uses them to protect his family and the public at large from unspeakable evil - a hero who is as genuinely good as the villains he fights are evil.
NOTE: I purchased this book as a series package special, which is why it does not show up as Verified Purchase.
Maybe it's a result of too many Marvel movies, but I view this novel, the first in a series, as essentially a superhero origin story. In the first action scene, Detective Tom Nolan discovers an ability he can't explain; his powers unfold at various points throughout the story; and the climax has him performing feats which would not be out of place in the next comics-based blockbuster.
However, I suppose the story is more properly classified as urban fantasy since the meat of the plot centers around a police investigation of a particularly nasty serial killer, and the story, while sprinkled withe a generous dose of the other-wordly, is firmly grounded in our time and place.
In other hands, the tone of the story could have turned intolerably dark, what with the gruesome murder of a child, the unrelenting stream of violence and the general feeling of evil presence gathering ever closer to the protagonist and those near and dear to him. What makes all the difference in this case is the setting, or rather its idealized version.
Seen through the eyes of the protagonist whose life has been dedicated to serving his community, we see New York City as a home to people who are decent, loving, loyal, and doing their best to make it in a harsh and imperfect word. Early on, Tom makes a point that even the criminals he encounters and arrests as part of his duties are generally good people who simply made the wrong choices and are capable of being reformed and rehabilitated.
The author is likely to catch flak for choosing two "outsider" groups, rather than native New Yorkers, to be the focal points of entry for the Big Bad. One of those is the real-life Mexican gang known as MS-13, and the other a national organization whose name is clear to anyone paying even marginal attention. As a narrative tool, though, this setup serves a purpose of creating an image of a city under siege from the forces of darkness which cannot be defeated by conventional means.
To put it simply, New York City of this novel is a community capable of producing a Saint, and in desperate need of one. We don't know why or how Tom Nolan gets picked for the job, but he accepts it whole-heartedly, which in itself tells us he must be the right choice.
From the title and the clear Catholic orientation of the novel, one might expect numerous pauses for theological discussions and explanation, but that's not the case. The required information comes to us in pithy chunks, never interfering with the pace or the steadily building tension leading to the climax.
The final confrontation with the Big Bad was fantastic, and as should be expected from the first novel in a series of many, left us with just enough of a resolution to want more. There are questions about both the nature of the upcoming threat(s) and about the extent on Tommy's current and potential powers. I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here, but for now I unreservedly recommend this book as a solid start.
This was a fantastic read--great fights for Detective Nolan against people possessed demons, some dabbling in the dark arts of which there clearly seems to be more in store for the future installments, and some interesting pairings of the supernatural with the police procedural in New York City.
I frequently end up gaining some favorite supporting characters in Finn's works, and Tommy's partner Alex Packard was kind of a interesting "old hand" on the force that was able to stay cool-headed through all the mayhem.
The arcana around Legion is really interesting, and I look forward to see how this develops/expands in later installments.
I had two issues with this installment I thought could have been handled better. One were the prayers...I enjoyed seeing them used by Nolan, that wasn't the issue, but for non-Catholics or those not well versed in the liturgy it might help having more guidance about their background. I suppose the reader could pick up and go find their nearest priest, or get to web searches--but short of that--they become sort of a black box. Granted, I realize that over-explaining might burden the story--so not sure what middle ground could be found.
The other issue was the abortion debate element. Despite the plot of Nolan pursuing his case with issues against abortion, the reader sees this as coming from the author--to the point it becomes somewhat disruptive to follow. The author is certainly free to build the story as he sees fit, politics and all, but in this case it seemed to have its own track parallel to the story--so distracted from it.
These two critiques aside, the main plot comes out fast paced in this non-stop, action, bloody, page turner. Definitely pick it up, and await book 2!
This is a very well written story. A police procedural that doesn't have a "Garcia" to suddenly find the answer to the detectives' questions. Refreshing. :) A devout man, who loves his family and friends, and is willing to die for them. Also, refreshing if one watches many of the movies on Netflix. An enemy that is the opposite of the hero. Extremely refreshing. Personally, I'm tired of stories that feature so-called protagonists, when I'd just like to read a book or watch a movie that has an unabashed hero.
Final advice: read this book. Unless you support Planned Parenthood and the recent law in NY state. In which case, you should not read this book. You will not enjoy it.