Daniel Faust, mage and con man, finished off his first trilogy of novels by disposing of a particularly nasty villain who either didn’t know or didn’t care that her plans would destroy all of creation.
So, what’s a guy living out of Vegas with his succubus girlfriend to do for an encore? Review and mild SPOILERS after the cut.
The novel begins as all Faust adventures do with a prologue setting up the crisis for the book. A figure known only as “the Smiler” chats with a board room full of people via Skype or something, scaring the crap out of all of them, and saying it was time for Faust to retrieve something.
What is that something? I am not sure. The Smiler doesn’t appear again until the epilogue, showing some resolution for what happened. The prologue and the epilogue are, as always, the only third person sequences Craig Schaefer will write, and the only scenes that don’t feature Faust. As always, Faust takes over as narrator for the rest of the book.
The Smiler, apparently, will pay off long term. The book continues with Daniel, down on his luck, being hounded by sorcerer/FBI agent Harmony Black looking to bring him down, accepting a job to steal an old Aztec knife for a millionaire in Austin from a collector in Chicago. The millionaire seems to be a little a off to Faust, but he needs the money so he’s going to do it anyway.
The robbery goes wrong, and Daniel needs to get the knife back and something called the Judas Coin or else the collector (a potent necromancer) will do awful things to one of Faust’s friends.
That means its time for Faust to call in his buddies and pull his usual elaborate con. And it works. Of course it works. That’s one of the big fun moments in any Daniel Faust adventure.
There is some advancement of an overarching plot. Other demons plant ideas in Faust’s head that his demon girlfriend Caitlyn may be using him. The Chicago mob is moving in on the Vegas mob that Faust works with. Back in Vegas, Faust’s pal Jennifer and his former mob boss employer Nicky are really close to killing each other. And on the edge, there’s Harmony Black looking to take Faust down for anything she can nail him for.
The book ends with Faust in a bad place. A really bad place. I’ll be getting to that soon.
Let’s give this one nine out of ten Kansas City Shuffles. It’s really good, but I think I’ve read a couple that are generally better.
Oh, and this one featured a pair of fun shout-outs to other works. Faust visit to Chicago does come with a Harry Dresden reference, where Faust doubts anyone was powerful enough to do one of Dresden’s most memorable magical feat, and later when Faust sits down to play poker, one of the men at the table with him is referred to only as “Herbert”. He says his magic in the morgue could be seen as science. His last name? Implied to be West, as in Herbert West, H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator.