#BookReview: THE DEVIL ASPECT by Craig Russell @TheCraigRussell @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK

91IpLM5uKFLPublication: 7th March 2019 (hardcover, eBook); 31st October 2019 (paperback) – Constable

How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by madness?

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself. Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?

Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

**********

I found the new novel by Craig Russell quite fascinating and scary. It’s an historical novel with gothic and horror elements that make each page highly suspenseful. At the center of the story there is a brutal serial killer on the loose in a pre-World War II Czechoslovakia where the first signs of tension between Jewish and German-born people start to show.

One of the protagonists of the story is Doctor Victor Kosárek who, after finishing his studies under Carl Jung, is starting his new job at Hrad Orlu, an asylum housed in a ancient medieval castle famous because its residents are the notorious “Devil Six”, the worst psychopatics in Central Europe. Victor hopes that his new tecnique of interviewing will help him figure out the Devil Aspect and uncover the truth behind their acts.

In the meantime, in Prague, the serial killer known as Leather Apron is terrorizing the city and detective  Lukas Smolak has to stop him, but the bodies keep piling up and clues lead him to questions some of the residents of Hrad Orlu.

The Devil Aspect is dark, claustrophobic, and chilling. The murders described are gruesome and not for the light-hearted (I found some of the descriptions hard to read). The author couldn’t find apter title for this novel. Through Viktor’s interviews with the inmates of Hrad Orlu we hear some of the worst murders I have ever read and the author masterfully sets them at the beginning of one of the darkest era in history. It’s the year 1935 and the Nazi power is spreading through Europe. We see predictions of a black furutre because of the historical and political situation at the time, we see people not trusting each other because of their religion and origin, the madness and evil inside the asylum going hand to hand with the madness and evil happening outside.

A story of murders, folklore, legends, and beliefs, The Devil Aspect kept me literally on the edge of my seat and it’s full of shocking twists that I didn’t see coming. A real page-turner!

A big thank you to Little, Brown and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

 

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