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[BOOK REVIEW] ‘THE PALE HOUSE DEVIL’ IS A SHORT, SWEET ROLLERCOASTER RIDE

Read Time:3 Minute, 8 Second

The Pale House Devil

Written by: Richard Kadrey

Published by: Titan Books

“A minute passed before Garrick’s corpse began to twitch. His limbs convulsed and his eyes fluttered open and shut. His shoulders spasmed and his teeth chattered as if he was cold. Then he stopped, grabbed his desk chair, and dragged himself to his feet. Erect, he looked at Ford and Neuland and said, “You’re both dead men.”

“No, I’m the dead one,” said Neuland.

“And I kill the dead,” said Ford, pulling his own pistol. He shot Garrick between the eyes with one of his special cold iron bullets and the man fell back to the floor.”

The Nice Guys meets Fright Night in the massively entertaining The Pale House Devil. A brisk, impossible-to-put-down thriller from author Richard Kadrey and the fine freaks at Titan Books. Ford is a slick, some-nonsense contract hitman. Neuland is his stormy, lethally competent partner. He also happens to be a zombie. Or Marcheur, as he prefers. Together they kill both the living and undead, if the price (and moral conditions) are right.

But when a woman from California offers them a brand new contract, they are faced with forces from beyond reality. Armed with little more than their wits, their will to live (or un-live), and special shotgun rounds made especially for monsters. Culminating in a brisk, endlessly fun read that is sure to delight both crime fiction fans and horror prose aficionados.

Right from the jump, author Richard Kadrey establishes a witty, energetic vibe and voice for our two leads (and third costar, Tilda, who is our starry-eyed but incredibly charming audience surrogate). One that sustains The Pale House Devil right up until the very end. Ford and Neuland instantly have a super fun shorthand with one another, one that’s then further supported by the keenly delivered action throughout the novel. We “see” them on the job, we see them on the run, but more importantly, we get an instant sense of how this pairing of weirdos really operate and how they have existed for so long.

Better still, Kadrey wastes not one second over explaining the world in which a pair of supernatural hitmen inhabit. The novel opens basically in media res, Ford and Neuland on the tail end of their latest job, and then hitting the ground in a dead sprint from there. Part of this could be the easily digestible page-count. The Pale House Devil clocks in at just under 120 pages. Which allows it to go down real smooth in less than a couple of sittings.

But I think the real power of The Pale House Devil lies in just how goddamn fun the whole thing is. Alongside just how deftly Kadrey melds pulp fiction and creature-feature horror. You get the sense that Kadrey not only revels in the darker side of thriller fiction, but displays a keen understanding of how both genres operate. As such, avoids a lot of the traps other writers with less of handle on them might fall into. The over-explaining the pair’s operations, the lore dumping around the supernatural elements, etc etc.

The Pale House Devil simply shows up, fully formed and not one sentence overstuffed. Culminating in a short, but tensely entertaining novel that delivers the best of both dark worlds. To say any more would be more time keeping you away from this short shock of delight. If you’ve ever watched Snatch and thought, “You know what would make this way better? A bloody shoggoth who is attached to a Los Angeles fat-cat!” then The Pale House Devil is the book for you.

The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey is available now from Titan Books.

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9.4

A Hellishly Fun Take on Two-Handed Crime

9.0/10

Rich Vibes and Tension

9.0/10

Easy to Burn Through

10.0/10

Genre Mash Up Fu

9.0/10

A Tremendous Monster at The End

10.0/10
Justin Partridge
partridge.just@gmail.com
Lover of table top RPGs, prog rock, and anything with Walton Goggins in it. Find his other blathering at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
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