Who remembers The Rolling Stones track, Sympathy for the Devil? Although the song was written and released before I was born, the lyrics have always stuck with me. So imagine how delighted I was to get the opportunity to read HellCorp and see things from the Devil’s perspective!
Blurb: Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime. But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…
This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.
About the author: Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. HellCorp is his second novel following his debut, Morbid Relations.
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JonathanWhitelawAuthor/
I think the Mark Twain quote ahead of Chapter One establishes the tone of the novel (Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company). It’s set in Glasgow and follows The Devil and his human sidekick, Dr Jill Gideon, as they try to solve a murder that happened 40 years ago although the victim is newly dead. And there are some nicely comic observations about the Scots too. “The smell of fatty food and a nice day [and] they’d jump through a ring of fire if they thought they were getting something for free.“
The story turns the concept of The Devil on its head and posits that, in his own words, “good and bad aren’t so diametrically opposed.” I loved Jill, who goes on her own journey to discover who she really is, while helping The Devil crack his case. And I loved The Devil too: wisecracking, blunt, taking no prisoners, and vocal in his disgust at being forced to take human form on Earth.
Without wanting to give away any spoilers, the novel is ultimately about our perceptions of others. How getting to know and trust someone can change you. That things aren’t always black and white, or good and evil. And that maybe The Devil and God aren’t all that we’ve been led to believe either.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, yes, yes, 100% yes, it’s a brilliantly funny and clever piece of writing. The concept is great and it’s a very easy and engaging read, which I devoured over the space of three evenings (a record for me!). The exchanges between The Devil and Him/Her (God) are hilarious and the interplay between The Devil and Jill is by turns funny and touching. If you’re looking for a comic novel with a touch of supernatural and some crime thrown in, HellCorp is the book for you.
I don’t know if the author is planning HellCorp: The Sequel (I think there may be a teaser at the end of this book?) but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. And one last thought, I think HellCorp would make a brilliant film – I know exactly who I’d cast as The Devil 🙂
Many thanks to Jonathan Whitelaw and Love Books Group Tours for sending over an APC to review. And don’t forget to check out what my fellow Blog Tour reviewers thought of the book too – see below:
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