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Book Review: Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle by Mike Carey

Felix Castor is back in this second novel for more action in the London-based world of exorcism. His ‘trainee’, the succubus Juliet, asks him for his help on the possession of a church near Wormwood Scrubs. His best friend, Rafi, seems to be miraculously free of the possession by the high demon Asmodeus, a possession that Felix unwittingly assisted in the first place. And he’s been asked to find the ghost of a girl by the parents who had got used to having her around. Of course, these three events have more in common that at first would appear …

Carey has crafted another exciting and entertaining story, which delves further into the supernatural elements of the universe he has created for his protagonist (where ghosts are now so common that Parliament has bills being prepared about the issue and an entrepreneurial scientist has an entire department set up in Paddington to research it). All the aspects of the first book are still in place – Castor’s witty narrative (with its English-based humour and references), the wonderful sense of a real world of ghosts and were-beings and exorcists, the three-dimensional characters that populate it, and a twisty and engrossing narrative.

This book expands on the first book, maintaining the momentum and developing the themes, the milieu of the book and the intricacies of the supernatural element behind stories. The only qualm I had about the second book is a worry about what I called ‘Kay Scarpetta Syndrome’ – Patricia Cornwell’s heroine who started out as a forensic pathologist in Richmond, Virginia, but ended up being involved with fighting terrorists and saving America – the expansion of the character out of its small and interesting world into ever larger and larger dramatic situations and outside of their natural setting. In this case, I hope Felix doesn’t end up battling Heaven and Hell with just his tin whistle …

Still, I couldn’t help but enjoy this compelling and well-crafted tale about a great character – more please, Mr Carey.

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