The sixth installment in the Daniel Faust series is a solid entry into one of the better urban fantasy series out there.
“Now I was free and clear. Free to answer one burning question. What do you do when you lose it all?”
If you remember–and surely, I eventually won’t–book five in the series, The Killing Floor Blues, was set in a prison, with Faust eventually breaking free–although the price was remaining legally dead, at least to law enforcement. Las Vegas is in the midst of a turf war, with Chicago mobsters trying to move into the vacancy left by former head Nikki, who hasn’t been seen in months. Faust and friends are hoping a talk with the head of the Chicago Family will pull the invaders out, but needless to say, the result is a full-scale war. One of Faust’s old enemies from the fourth book, A Plain Dealing Villain, is also out for revenge, but on the plus side, so is Freddie the fashion designer.
“‘Say the words,’ Freddie told Halima.
‘I’m not saying it.’
Freddie waved a checkbook at her. ‘One thousand dollar donation to the Field Museum, right here and now, but you have to say the words.’
Halima let out a weary sigh and looked our way.
‘Come with me if you want to live,’ she said.
Freddie squealed with delight as we piled into the backseat.”
As always, characterization of the protagonist team shines. Opposition may be a little color-by-number, a detail that perhaps prevents a truly amazing book, but is otherwise unnoticeable. Caitlin plays her usually strong supporting role, and I found myself impressed by her at the end. Schafer captured that sense of Hell’s patience and time. I also appreciated what appears to be developments in Faust’s character, but honestly, I felt a little like I was watching a re-run. I’m not sure if that sense is from the stereotypical ‘rite-of-passage’ personal resolution or that Faust has done it before. I kind of feel it’s the latter. It reminds me more than a bit of the third book in the series, The Living End, where Faust and friends band together to solve a problem.
Like other books, this one is packed with action. I did have a couple troubles with the plotting, the first being Faust’s ‘legally dead’ status being used to brow-beat him into action, when he had enough motivation to do so anyway. The second issue was the trip to Chicago, which made virtually no sense to me in light of Faust’s non-existent standing in the crime scene. That said, it’s a great ride if you just go along with it. For those who want to know about cliffhangers, while the Las Vegas issue is certainly resolved, the issue about the Eternal Story and the mysterious Enemy working against Faust is not.
My edition isn’t as full of outlining as it normally is in a Faust book, but one lovely bit stood out:
“Hospital time is the dark twin to casino time. Both move at their own pace, untouched by the world outside the walls, playing tricks on you and skewing your vision.”
I definitely recommend to fans of the series. For those who enjoy urban fantasy with a bit of pseudo-antihero, what are you waiting for?