Friday, August 19, 2011

The Devil Be Damned by Ali Vali

Publisher:                Bold Strokes Books

The Devil Be Damned is the fourth book in the Casey Family Saga and picks up where Deal With the Devil left off.

Cain Casey should be enjoying her life.  Her wife Emma is pregnant with their third child, her family is at the height of its power  and the FBI is still running in circles trying to prove that Cain has done something illegal.  Problems abound however.  Cain's organization is still searching for the men who harmed Emma in the last book, drug lords are trying to form a partnership with the Casey empire, cousin Muriel is sleeping with the FBI agent charged with catching Cain and Remi Jatibon, Cain's friend and business partner, is trying to help her lover Dallas Montgomery overcome shadows from her past.  Further complicating matters is the arrival of a woman who wants to control New Orleans and unleashes a brutal wave of killing that shocks even the Caseys and the Jatibons.  Cain may have met her match this time.

Ali Vali is one of the best writers in the genre and has created a unique character in Cain Casey.  It's not often that the head of a crime family, who doesn't hesitate to use torture and murder when necessary, is used as the definition of honor, tradition and heroism.  Vali uses stereotypes in some areas, specifically making FBI agents fanatics, bumblers or criminals, and plays against type when she gives women dominant positions in an environment that usually expects women to stay in the shadows.  The use of women in non-traditional roles gives a lift to the story and a different flavor.

The Devil Be Damned illustrates the strongest and weakest aspects of a series.  For those fans who have read the previous books, this gives them a chance to catch up with the latest chapters in the lives of some favorite characters.  It moves the story forward and allows the reader to reacquaint with Cain, Emma, Remi and the others.  Where it falls down is that it's weak as a stand alone novel.  There are references to past events with little explanation to set them in context and some of the behaviors in the book don't make sense or seem overblown if the reader doesn't know what's happened before in the saga.  The plot lines in this book are also not all resolved.  Instead this book is used as a set up for the next in the series.  That may be good for selling books, but it's frustrating for a reader.

This is an above average book and worth reading; however, for total enjoyment, it really would be good to start with the first book and work forward.  That isn't mandatory, but it will increase the appreciation of the book.

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