Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review: The Diabolist by Layton Green

The Diabolist (Dominic Grey, Book #3)
by Layton Green
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
2013 Thomas & Mercer
Softcover Edition; 375 Pages
ISBN: 978-1611099843
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Layton Green

4.5 Stars

In this gripping thriller, the bizarre murder of a Satanic priest in San Francisco draws Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, private investigators of cults, to the scene. Witnesses claim a robed figure, seemingly able to appear and disappear at will, set fire to the priest. When the leader of another Satanic cult in Paris dies under similar circumstances, the case only grows stranger… and more dangerous.

Convinced that a charismatic New Age prophet is behind the murders, the investigators undergo a perilous journey into the world of the occult as they try to penetrate the prophet’s inner circle. From the catacombs of Paris to London’s nefarious East End, from the haunted walls of York to a monastic fortress in the Sicilian wilderness, the case plunges Viktor and Grey into a vortex of black magic, ancient heresies, and the dark corners of their own pasts.

My Thoughts
The Diabolist is the third novel in the Dominic Grey Series and is my favourite one so far.  It's not my favourite because it is more gripping than the first two in the series as I found The Summoner somewhat more suspenseful and 'edge-of-your-seat' thrilling than The Diabolist, but I liked it more because of the character development and the interaction between Dominic and Viktor.

Viktor and Dominic find themselves immersed in another case of cultism as they research and investigate the death of a new age priest through burning, in front of an audience, as well as the death of a Satanic cult leader in France.  Claiming that a robed figure can manifest and disappear at will, witnesses attest that the priest was set afire in a 'miraculous' manner.  Phenomenologist Viktor is skeptical about the whole 'miracle', and sets about to debunk the theory that mysterious powers are at work and seeks an alternate solution.  Unfortunately, that investigation puts both Viktor and Dominic in dangerous territory as they fight off a frightening foe.  

As always, I found the plot to be quite fast-paced, interesting, with a lot of things happening at once. There is never really a boring moment in The Diabolist and yet, at the same time, the plot is rich in detail and research.  I definitely learned a lot about cults and cultists and the history that is unearthed is quite fascinating, especially to a history buff like myself.  One of the strengths in this novel is the writing; it is definitely precise, clear, and quite intelligent in the sense that the conversations between the characters really make you think.  I especially like the discussions about what is evil and how the answers and discussions are never clear or concise.  They are meant to invoke discussion and thoughts and ideas and I definitely like that aspect.  It would be a good novel for a book club discussion.

The best thing about this novel is the on-going, and developing, relationship between Viktor and Dominic.  Going into this novel, we knew so little about Viktor, it was definitely a treat to learn more about his past and how he developed such an interest in phenomenology. And the best part, there is still so much more to learn.  I liked the growing trust between these men, a difficult task considering their upbringings and I can't wait to see how things develop between them.  Viktor's deepening dependance on absinthe is surely going to go into crisis mode soon and I'm curious as to what the author is planning on doing with this storyline.  

One of my big concerns with all of the novels has to be the feminine arc.  I find the women tend to be stereotypical in all of these stories, and Anka was no exception.  I had brief hopes at the beginning, but they soon died as they novel wore on and I could predict where her story was going. While most of his female characters did manage to avoid the usual cliches and stereotypes, there was a bit of the 'needy' girl that I would like to see dispensed with.  I would love to see stronger female characters, similar to Dominic and Viktor, appear in these novels as permanent fixtures as this would certainly create some interesting story lines (and perhaps give Dominic a 'run for his money').  

The Diabolist is one of those novels that will appeal to fans of different genres as it has something for everyone.  If this is the first time you have heard of this series, I do recommend you start at the beginning, with The Egyptian, as it makes some things easier to understand, although this novel could be read as a stand-alone.  This novel tends to look at the darker side of society, and the means to which some people will go to get fame and stardom.  It also takes a look at some of the cults that exist in our society today and examines them more closely.  I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fast-paced, intelligent thriller.