Los Angeles is a rotten city for a human. After beating the Nazis, the brave men of America fought a new and more terrifying threat. In the Night War, they faced real monsters, like actual real monsters, and they lost. So now, humans live as second-class citizens in a post-war LA and try to get by without getting turned into a pumpkinhead, wolfman, or any of a dozen other monsters. Moss will have to get very lucky or be incredibly skilled if he wants to get to the bottom of this case without turning into a gourd or feeling a strong urge to chase down Frisbees.
The story is a competent noir despite the supernatural twist. I should be very clear here. Achieving competency in a noir story is a feat of tremendous skill. The plot is labyrinthine and the characters range from untrustworthy to hostile. There are two additions to the style that work perfectly in this story.
The monsters run the show and make sure the
meatsticks humans know it. This drives home the allegory portion of the story, where humans play the part of any group of systemically oppressed people and the monsters represent the monsters who keep them down. What I loved about this part of the story is that it was cleverly done and never really in-your-face. You can enjoy this book without considering the social implications, and it all works beautifully.
The other thing that this book adds to the standard noir formula is humor. This is a funny book. The premise alone is amusing, but the way it is told really drives the humor home. For example, the dialogue between Moss and his former neighbor and current pumpkinhead Sam is an absolute scream. (Ed. - Really?) Moss also delivers some incredible wisecracks and includes a few puns, which are the shortest way to my heart. The jokes are occasionally bad, but the good kind of bad, and the result is a book that would be worth recommending if only for the humor.
Now, I have to mention the things that I didn’t like about City of Devils.
With that taken care of, let’s wrap this up.
City of Devils is a light-hearted (mostly) noir detective story that successfully incorporates monsters, ghouls, and ghosts into 1950s LA. The result is an inventive world with a compelling mystery and a funny protagonist. This book is absolutely worth your time.
Five Mummy’s Boys out of Five