Timy reviews A Plain-Dealing Villain, the fourth book in the Daniel Faust Urban Fantasy series by Craig Schaefer.
Please check out the review of book 3, The Living End as well.
|Series: Daniel Faust #4||Genre: Urban Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: January 20th 2015||Trigger Warnings: violence, murder, torture|
|Page count: 316||Publisher: Demimonde Books|
It’s hard to make a dishonest buck in Sin City, especially when a rogue FBI agent is gunning for your head. Flat broke and one step ahead of the law, Daniel Faust flees Vegas and lands in Chicago, where a risky heist promises to fill his pockets with cash.
There are the risks you can account for, and then there are the risks you never see coming, the ones that leave you blindsided and fighting to survive. Daniel is a stranger in a strange land, out of his element and surrounded by corrupt sorcerers, demons, and worse. Still, with a friend’s soul hanging in the balance — not to mention a pile of stolen cash — giving up isn’t an option.
Before he’s done, Daniel will descend into the depths of Chicago’s occult netherworld, competing in an underground poker tournament where the winner takes all…and with the infernal Court of Night-Blooming Flowers running the show, “winner takes all” has an entirely new meaning. The Flowers haven’t forgotten Daniel’s past insults, and if they get their way, he’ll never leave the Windy City alive.
“When the sun went down over Vegas and the neon ignited, Fremont Street turned into a drunken carnival. The air smelled like cheap beer and stale sweat as I blended in with the milling crowds, just another anonymous face under the cherry glow of the canopy light show. Streamers of color swirled and exploded overhead, timed to the rhythm of a Beatles medley pumping out over bass-heavy speakers.”
Not quite the vibe I was going for, but eventually I settled for Nothing But Thieves by Pop Evil.
I kept promising for years that I’ll catch up with the Daniel Faust series and I’M DETERMINED TO SEE THAT THROUGH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. *ahem* With every book I read from Craig Schaefer, my admiration for him (and his writing) grows. I said it before and I’m going to say it a few more times in the future, but he is definitely one of my favorite authors, and not just when it comes to UF. I can very highly recommend checking out any of his books. You won’t regret it.
I find Schaefer’s books very addictive. It’s not really a secret that I’ve been struggling with reading all year. It’s been very rare that I finished a book within a week – some audiobooks and short stories/novellas not counting – and I literally couldn’t stop reading A Plain-Dealing Villain. One time I had to force myself to stop at 1 am, because of stupid sleep. And I definitely didn’t stay up until 3 am just to finish it. Nope. Not me. You must be confusing me with someone else. Who is also me. Yeah, well… I have no regrets.
Right. Let’s talk about Daniel Faust then. The first three books kinda worked as a trilogy within the series, as The Living End closed down the Lauren Carmichael story arc. But that doesn’t mean we are starting from scratch in A Plain-Dealing Villain as – according to the prologue and the fact that some plotlines weren’t quite closed yet – some unknown forces set their eyes on our dear Dan, which lands him in neck-deep shit. Partly as his own doing and partly things escalating out of his control. Like Harmony Black being on his ass 24/7, circling him like a vulture waiting for her pray to step just a teeny tiny bit out of line. So, when a job opportunity comes knocking on Dan’s door which takes him out of town and has a promise to pay for some of his debts, he takes it against his better judgment. And that’s how he ends up in Chicago, carrying out business for a Texan millionaire who recently won the lottery and whose employees seem to be more in control than him. Still, a job is a job, and Daniel is determined to see it through. But when did anything go right? Never, that’s when.
I could talk about the plot(s) a lot, but I’d rather not spoil it. Suffice to say a heist is going wrong, then there is an ever bigger heist to solve some of the problems the first one brought around while Dan tries to make sure he gets the original job done. If he can also dish out some justice left and right all the better. And if that weren’t enough, his problems concerning Vegas are just getting bigger as a new player wants to get their claws into the criminal side of the City of Lights. So, yeah, Schaefer is not one to give some break to his characters every once in a while. Where would be the fun in that, huh? When he threw in just one more plotline around the 75% mark as I was getting my popcorn ready for the endgame, I was half exasperated, half amazed. I didn’t think there was anything else coming except the resolution of everything happening up to that point, and I was punished for underestimating Schaefer, which I’ll try not to do again. It fit really well into the events and it also led to the ending of A Plain-Dealing Villain which just ensured that I’ll get to the next book as soon as I can, because holy shit, I need to know what happens next. It left Dan in a really tight spot, and while the main plotlines got their resolutions, it opened up a whole new dimension for the coming books. What can I say? Craig Schaefer is definitely skilled storyteller, who, once getting you ensnared in one of his traps disguised as books, will happily torture you until the end of the world. Too bad I can’t hate him for it.
A Plain-Dealing Villain brings back most of the already well-known characters in Dan’s life, such as his family, his demon darling, Nicky Agnelli and Harmony Black of course. But we also get a whole new set of characters which comes with the new setting of Chicago. I’m not sure how many of them will make a comeback later on (some of the definitely will), but I’m hoping to see Fredrika Vinter again – if she ever leaves the mysterious occult club caled Bast Club, that is. We didn’t get to see her much, but I just have the feeling there is a lot more about her we should explore. Starting with what she is exactly. And whether she’ll be a friend or foe in the long run. She striked me as a person (being?) who says what she damn pleases and won’t bow down just to anyone, no matter who they are. Then again, it’s all good within the strict rules of the club, so it would be fun to see what she does outside of it.
Then we also have Royce, the hound of Prince Malphas and ex-lover of Caitlin who can – and will – complicate things for Dan in the future. At least that’s what my gut is saying. I’d say he is a great addition and I’m looking forward to all the havoc this will wreak, but…I’m really not fond of the guy. Then again, we all need a character we enjoy hating and Royce is definitely up to the job.
I think what really sells the Daniel Faust series to me are the characters and the way Schaefer writes relationships – romantic or otherwise. With each book I’m growing attached to them, especially Daniel. What can I say? I have a thing for witty, sarcastic characters who can’t be labeled either good or bad. And when you start rooting with all your heart for a person who is admittedly a criminal, well… I’ve been a fan of the series ever since I’ve read the first book, but I think it was A Plain-Dealing Villain that started to grow on me as I had stronger emotional responses to some of the things happening.
The series gets better with each book as we get deeper into Daniel Faust’s life of crime and the supernatural. As the intricacies are getting broader and more complex. I can’t press this enough, but if you love UF, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
Please only click on the spoiler tag if you already read the book or have no intention of reading it. Otherwise, feel free to skip this part and maybe grab a copy for yourself if you’d like to make your own judgment!