If you like urban fantasy, I highly recommend giving Craig Schaefer’s Daniel Faust a try. Apparently my first two reviews were complicated by a now-repaired broken finger (and quite possibly a little pain-killing medication), so I owe Faust a decent review.
Let me give you an idea how much I enjoy this series:
Enough that I’ve bought the first four books of the Daniel Faust series for my kindle at full price, and I never pay more than three dollars for a e-book.
Enough that I save them for riding the bike at the gym as a way of motivating myself to get there and exercise.
Enough that they are my go-to rec for action UF, as they are fun, clever, reasonably well plotted, and generally free of annoyances that plague certain other series.
About this book in particular:
“Speaking of which, this ‘Meadow Brand’ person? As your attorney, I recommend killing her. Make it look like a drug overdose, maybe a gang shooting, something nice and unrelated, you know?”
Daniel Faust and his friends are doing their very best to thwart the end-of-the-world plans of Lauren and her henchperson Meadow, but they have their hands full after FBI Agent Black (!) has put Faust in her crosshairs. Faust is a small-time criminal and sorcerer who moves in some ethically dubious circles. An interaction with a demon sums it up: “He let out a long, slow chuckle and took another sip of whiskey. ‘I do so enjoy a man named Faust asking me about a deal. Makes me feel at one with history. Shame we can’t talk business son, but you’re already damned.” But at least Faust isn’t alone. The magical–and criminal–underground in Vegas is closely knit, and Faust has a number of friends he can count on, including Bentley and Corman, the couple who run Scrivener’s Nook; Pixie, computer whiz, non-magical and dedicated to helping the homeless; and Jennifer, ex-girlfriend who has her eye on a hostile takeover of Vegas’ criminal activity; and even Nicky, half-demon and current head of said criminal activity. Oh, and Caitlin, Hound of Hell and the love of Faust’s life.
Yes, I get it–the set up sounds a little silly. And while it is a little silly in the classic premise of action stories–crazy person wants to take over the world/become a deity–I like to think it achieves something solid, an ideal meld of action, compassion and humor, cooked together with solid writing. Writing feels solid to me, achieving a balance between humor, atmosphere and action. Listen to a demon play the blues: “This was the real blues, down-home raw and ragged, drenched with sweat and sex and the bloodied edge of a switchblade. Out on the dark and silent street, his music still echoed in the back of my mind, floating and fading like a dream that slips away on waking.”
I won’t sum the plot, except to say this book is the culmination of The Lauren Problem began in books one and two. Stopping Lauren takes Faust and the team through a number of hurdles in such a way as to keep my attention without feeling like it’s wasting time. The plotting also nicely evades the escalating bigger-badder villain plot-trap, which in turn sidesteps the need for Faust to become more and more magically endowed. Magic tends to be used creatively, but not necessarily powerfully in this world–Faust’s go-to weapon is a deck of cards.
There’s also a decent amount of humor, occasionally situational–a scene heavy on the sexual foreplay could have annoyed but instead had me laughing out loud at its cleverness. For a urban fantasy, I thought it had some surprisingly solid emotional moments, whether it was Pixie expressing doubt at the new knowledge of the magical world, Faust considering how far he will go to bring Lauren down, or managing the delicate emotional state of a friend’s daughter. I enjoyed it.
“I wasn’t sure which way she’d lean in the end, which of her parents she’d take after, and I really didn’t care. What mattered to me was that she knew she had choices, and she knew she was loved.”