"Devil's Hand" Book Review
Written by M.E. Patterson
2012, 324 pages, Fiction
Published on July 25th, 2011
I always feel a certain trepidation when starting a new book from an author I've never heard of. Even more so when it's their first book and I am going into it completely blind. Usually, when it's not a book that I'm reviewing, I'll scour the web for reviews to see what others are saying. I completely disregard Amazon reviews because, let's face it, it's safe to assume that more than half of those five stars found on an authors first novel are from friends and family and can't be trusted. So I was a little nervous going into Devil's Hand by M.E. Patterson. It's written by an unknown author to me, I refuse to read anything written about it as not to skew my own thoughts and it looks to be self-published. To say that it has more against it than for would be an understatement. Fortunately, by the end of the first chapter, I knew that I would be enjoying the novel, and I was right.
Devil's Hand, in a nutshell, is a novel about good vs. evil. Our hero Trent and his girlfriend Susan are moving back to Las Vegas for Susan's new job. They used to live there some time ago, but were more-or-less run out of town due to Trent's unnatural luck in the casinos. The guy could just not lose at poker, even when he tried. This weird string of luck started when he survived a plane crash where he fell 15,000 feet. So winning a few hands of cards seems like no big deal. However, the casino owners, some shadier than others, banned him from playing and the two ended up leaving town. Things change, though, and the two make their way back. You would think the major hail storm that forced their moving van off the road, which eventually turned into fish falling from the sky, would have dropped the hint that coming back might not be the best idea, but why bother to pay attention to the signs in front of your face.
Anyway, it turns out that Trent's amazing luck is more than it seems and it all involves a battle between angels (both good and evil) and demons (both evil and not-so-evil) while the humans are stuck in the middle with the Earth as the prize and Las Vegas the starting point.
Devil's Hand takes an interesting look at why angels fell from God's grace in a way that's reminiscent of the often under-appreciated film The Prophecy. While we mud creatures think everything is about us, the reality is that it's not. Angels just don't like us because we became the favorite child. Some are happy to do nothing and some aren't. There are even some fallen angels who just want to get back into God's good graces. Everyone in this book has an agenda, including the demons who have chosen sides. And then there's Trent with his gift, who's given the responsibility to end this entire, bickering battle. (Oh, and there's also a young girl in the mix that has some special powers of her own.)
The best character in the novel, hands down, is Ramón, but on a bittersweet level. While he is a big deal in the confines of the book, he is relegated to being the exposition character. This is frustrating because this guy is the coolest cat on the block. He is Lucifer in The Prophecy. Not just the slickest character in the book, Ramón is also the creepiest. His evil is underplayed, but, man, you know this guy will devour your soul with no problems should he want to. But, dammit, you want more from him. He shows up, answers some questions and gets Trent on the path of his destiny and then he's gone. As the finale is open-ended (and the book cover does have a splash stating "Book One of The Drawing Thin Series"), maybe Ramón will show up in a sequel. He definitely deserves more than the chapter given to him.
For a first novel, Devil's Hand is damn entertaining. Patterson does an admirable job of mixing action and mystery with the supernatural, and the story moves at a decent clip. There are some issues I have with the book that will work themselves out as Patterson hones his skill. For example, Trent spends a lot of his time avoiding and fighting a beast that resides in darkness. Any time there is a confrontation, there is an overuse of certain words like “darkness”, “shadow”, “dark” and such. It tends to take one out of the action because the words get so repetitive. Judging by his writing overall, though, these niggles will become less and less as he writes more. While not perfect, Devil's Hand is an impressive debut that's worth checking out.