Known Devil by Justin Gustainis

Known Devil: An Occult Crimes Unit Investigation by Justin GustainisCoffee breaks are meant to give a guy a chance to unwind. Detective Sgt. Stan Markowski and his partner Karl Renfer were sitting in Jerry’s Diner, relaxing and shooting the breeze, with Stan drinking bad coffee and Karl drinking his usual Type A blood–just an ordinary coffee break until two elves tried to rob the joint. The big question in Stan and Karl’s minds was not how to handle the situation, but why elves would commit a robbery in the first place. They are not particularly known for being bad-asses–-unlike trolls and meth-head goblins. Well, first things first, so with a bit of Stan’s trickery and Karl’s vampiric speed, the situation is soon under control.

The answer to why becomes unfortunately clear during an interrogation back at the station. There is a new drug in town and the elves were junkies. Until now, goblins were the only species of supernaturals with a drug problem, but “Slide” was made for supes and apparently not only addictive to elves, but vampires, as well. Stan and Karl’s day was about to get a whole lot worse.

In tracking down Slide dealers, they discovered there was also a Mob war – err, fangwar – going on in Scranton. A Mafia family out of Philly was in town and vampire mobsters were showing up dead in shoot-outs all over town. On the surface, it looked like a normal kind of fight for territory and dominance, but Stan’s cop instincts told him that there was something going on below the surface. The situation was being manipulated behind the scenes by someone or something. Stan and Karl are going to have to put the puzzle pieces together to stop both the drug trade and a mob war, and discover the real scheme and who is pulling the strings.

Known Devil is the third book in the Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series. This series just keeps getting stronger and more engaging. Although it would read well as a stand-alone, I recommend starting with the first book so you do not miss any of the connections, nuances and jokes in this book.

The characters and storyline are outstanding. The main characters, human and supernatural, are like comfortable acquaintances, but still full of surprises and depth you had not seen before. You know that Det. Markowski will push the boundaries of legality and police procedure, but you are never sure just how far he will push them. You know that Karl is a young vampire, still engaged in a balancing act between his vampire nature and law enforcement calling, but are surprised by his developing skills and tight hold on his humanity. The reader gets to know the quirks (Karl’s love for all things James Bond) and personal worries (are Christine, Stan’s vampire daughter, and Karl getting a little too friendly?).

The crimes are both mundane and hard-hitting, often intertwined with a central mystery. And the author is a tricky guy. Just when you think you have got it figured out, he throws in a plausible twist or a curve in the road that takes you completely off course. Each book has introduced a new supernatural species to the mix, and this one contains a doozy. Reading this series, I feel as though I am at a feast and my hunger for fantasy, clever plots, fascinating characters easy to relate to, and a good old-fashioned dose of mystery is totally fulfilled.

Book Stats:

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857661663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857661661

Buy a print copy of Known Devil from Amazon by clicking here.
Buy a Kindle copy of Known Devil from Amazon by clicking here.

Books in the Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series in the order they should be read:
Hard Spell
Evil Dark
Known Devil

Coffee breaks are meant to give a guy a chance to unwind. Detective Sgt. Stan Markowski and his partner Karl Renfer were sitting in Jerry’s Diner, relaxing and shooting the breeze, with Stan drinking bad coffee and Karl drinking his usual Type A blood–just an ordinary coffee break until two elves tried to rob the …

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Summary : The crimes are both mundane and hard-hitting, often intertwined with a central mystery. And the author is a tricky guy. Just when you think you have got it figured out, he throws in a plausible twist or a curve in the road that takes you completely off course. Each book has introduced a new supernatural species to the mix, and this one contains a doozy.

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About Storm

Storm Reyes has been reading paranormal, science fiction and fantasy books for over 50 years and writing reviews for 3 years. She recently retired from her position as Executive Assistant for the Pierce County Library System and now spends her time doing whatever the heck she wants to do. She's a Puyallup Indian, living on an urban reservation and so has the best of both worlds. Storm also spent 40 years as a human rights activist and public speaker. Her future plans include learning Tai Chi and making a dent in her stack of books to-be-read.

11 comments

  1. Great review! I need to start this series asap.

  2. I reviewed the first in this series a month or so ago and really enjoyed it. Hoping to get through the next two before the snow melts. :)

  3. As a lover on the murder series IN Death and the paranormal, I can’t wait to dig in to what sounds like an awesome series.

  4. It sounds intense, but also funny…a good combo for me, if it’s not too gory!

    • I agree with Storm, they have some fade to black moments for the violence. It’s palpable but not in your face like some books can be. LOVE this series.

  5. Trix, the books are definitely not too gory – yes, there is violence, but not graphic by any means. And most definitely lots of funny quips!

  6. I haven’t started this series yet, but I do have Hard Spell on my TBR shelf just waiting for me to get to it. It looks like I need to get started soon, I’m getting way behind. :D

  7. I haven’t read this one. Looks like it will be put on my TBR pile.

  8. Raonaid Luckwell

    Huh, I like when you mention that a curve ball is tossed in when you get things figured out intrigues me. I like when an author does that

  9. great review. I’ve bought the first one in this series and am looking forward to it.

    • I think you will love it Pam!

      Be sure to come back and leave a comment after you are done with your thoughts. I LOVE this series.