Thomas Fool has the unenviable job of investigating crimes in hell. One might think that no one would care, given that everyone there supposedly did something to deserve their punishments. Still, hell’s higher ups us Fool and the other Information Men to make sure that nothing horrible happens to people that they didn’t plan. The Devil’s Evidence, by Simon Kurt Unsworth, is the sequel to The Devil’s Detective and continues Fool’s adventures in the afterlife. Fool still investigates crimes but, as the book opens, he is stymied by competition from hell’s bureaucracy and a baffling series of massacres and arsons.
Hell wants results and it wants them now. Unfortunately for Thomas Fool, the clues point to a number of possible culprits and the Evidence Men (a new organization) keep trampling his crime scenes and accusing random sinners. Fool can’t make any kind of headway no matter who he questions or what clues he uncovers. To make things even more complicated, Fool is summoned by heaven to “investigate” some odd “crimes.” (Heaven’s representatives refuse to call them crimes because, by definition, heaven is perfect.) As in every well constructed mystery, the two series of crimes are revealed to have the same perpetrator.
The mystery in The Devil’s Evidence was very interesting to watch, especially as Fool has to deal with the Evidence Men, but I was much more interested in Unsworth’s developing eschatology. Though Fool’s afterlife seems based on the traditional Christian heaven and hell, Christianity doesn’t play a big part. God is absent. Hell is so random that redemption is more of a fluke than anything else. Heaven, in this version, is sinister in its insistence on perfect and refusal to explain itself.
I don’t want to say too much more about this book, for fear of ruining the solution. (I will say that I didn’t see it coming—always a sign of a well-plotted mystery, for me.) The Devil’s Evidence is an intriguing blend of horror, mystery, and fantasy, centered on a character who is driven to uncover the truth in the most dire circumstances.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 5 July 2016.