The Devil’s Brew Review: A Tense Thriller That Desperately Misses London


The upcoming sequel to Pennies for Charon (read my review HERE) sees the return of Charlie Bars, although this time he is transplanted to Northumbria as he escapes the demons he left behind in London.

The narrative is interesting, as it switches frequently between Bars’ first person narration and a dramatic third person depiction of various atrocities. Initially the central crime is horse mutilation, and for a moment I, as a West Country girl who knows better than most the stupid notion that everyone from the countryside is a farmer with farmer problems, was scared that this would be another one dimensional portrayal of daft farmers and suspicious locals whose initial theories revolve around aliens.

However, my fears were quickly assuaged as Charlie is plunged headlong into a campaign of terror, with the horses acting as the beginning for far worse atrocities.

Author Benedict Jones’s real skill here is dialogue, and protagonist Charlie in particular is vivid and realistic, with the rough, natural tone providing an antidote to the overly slick parody such a character could easily be. Jones is also a deeply interesting man with many great opinions on the genres he writes across, and you can read the interview he did with me last year HERE.

Overall, I enjoyed The Devil’s Brew, although I missed the real depth of plotting and the richness that the involvement of London lent to Pennies for Charon. Somehow the countryside does not participate in the same way London does, and I missed the addition of the setting as a character. Despite this I would recommend this as a gritty thriller with a psychotic villain and some genuinely repulsive, intense portrayals of human beings at their worst.

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