Title: The Devil Aspect
Author: Craig Russell
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: 7th March 2019
Summary: from Amazon
1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.
At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.
Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?
Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.
When I read the blurb of The Devil Aspect I was instantly intrigued. The story sounded dark and complex plus the setting of Czechoslovakia in the years leading up to World War Two only made me more interested. As I began to read, the first thing I noticed was the writing style which is elegant and harkens back beautifully to the period this book is set. The gorgeous writing sets the tone perfectly and there really is a lovely use of language especially when discussing psychology which is one of the central themes of The Devil Aspect.
One of the biggest strengths of this book is that the time period it covers is so fascinating and harrowing. Reading about the stirrings of The Second World War and seeing the signs of the darkness approaching these characters that some of them remain unaware of is compelling and saddening. It’s also a fascinating look at a specific area of Europe at this time and the history and mythology surrounding Czechoslovakia. The dark themes of The Devil Aspect are all too real, including the rise of the Nazi party but also bringing in notorious figures like Jack the Ripper which was subtle and cleverly done. Jack the Ripper has been examined and investigated so closely by so many but still remains a shadowy unknown spectre in many ways. Tying the story to him added a great deal of mystery and drama.
The characters of The Devil Aspect are complex and engaging. Unusually, for me at least, I actually found every single character equally interesting which made the book all the more enjoyable. The plot took some twists and turns that I anticipated and some that I didn’t but the story was so well written that it made no difference to how much I liked this novel when I did guess certain twists. I also think the ending was dealt with in a way which was engrossing and realistic but also felt true to the rest of the book.
I loved reading The Devil Aspect and it felt very different and original when compared to some other psychological thrillers I have recently read. The plot, historical setting and characters are fantastic and a real highlight is the writing which is riveting and intelligent. I will definitely be looking to read more from this author.
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I received an e-arc of the novel through Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.