Timy reviews The Killing Floor Blues, the 5th book in Craig Schaefer‘s Urban Fantasy series, Daniel Faust. For reviews of the previous books, see: The Living End (book 3), A Plain-Dealing Villain (book 4).
|Series: Daniel Faust #5||Genre: Urban Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: July 30, 2015||Trigger Warnings: violence, blood, death|
|Page count: 326||Publisher: Demimonde Books|
Nobody has ever escaped from the Iceberg. It’s a privately-owned prison deep in the Mojave Desert, staffed by brutal guards and surrounded by desolate wasteland. Inside the walls, gangs and predators are constant threats; outside the walls, there’s nothing but a sniper’s bullet or a slow death in the desert heat.
Framed for murder and snared in a deadly curse, Daniel Faust lands behind bars with a target on his back. Worse, with Faust out of the picture, the Chicago mob is making its bid for control of Las Vegas. If he can’t engineer his escape in time to stop them, none of his friends are safe. Then there’s the matter of the warden’s dark secret, the one that’s filling up the prison morgue with body bags.
Faust has been caged, buried, cut off from his allies and his magic. His enemies think they’ve won. They’re about to learn, the hard way, that this is one sorcerer who always has a trick up his sleeve.
Nobody has ever escaped from the Iceberg. But the Iceberg has never had a prisoner like Daniel Faust.
Well, I usually try to go with the same band for each book in a series, except for the Daniel Faust one it seems. Oh well. I think Let Me Out by Future Leaders of the World fits the book pretty well, and I’m sticking to it.
Since we are talking about the 5th book in a series, I think it’s safe to say this review for The Killing Floor Blues will contain mild (or not so mild) spoilers for previous books. So, if you haven’t read the series yet, or want to at one point, I will have to ask you to proceed with caution. I will do my best not to spoil the events in The Killing Floor Blues, nor in the previous books, but it might happen.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about our boy, Danny. (I’m pretty sure I would be flayed alive if I called him Danny boy to his face, but here we go.) Things aren’t looking up for him, that’s for sure. By the end of book 4, Daniel Faust got himself into a pretty tight spot, and it’s going to take him a bit more than his charming personality to get out of it. Preferably alive. The odds aren’t in his favor, but then again, when were they? Still, prison life does not suit him, and so he does his best to find a way out. Making friends and enemies left and right as he adjusts to the hierarchy within the walls. Business as usual. And the Chicago mob is just all too happy to use this opportunity to create some more mayhem. Because that’s Vegas needs, obviously.
I think this is the first book in the series, where a good portion of the plot is contained to only one place, in this case, the Iceberg (or officially known as Eisenberg Correctional). In a less skilled hand, this could have gone wrong pretty quickly. Sure, predictably, Daniel does try to break out using any and every trick up his sleeve. And yes, he makes allies to make it happen. There is a hierarchy and you either have to pay up and be protected or be alone against this small, closed world. A tale as old as time.
What makes it entertaining in this case is the plot twists I should have seen coming and didn’t, the characters – Daniel especially, but also the well-crafted side ones -, and the occasional use of magic. I think what I like about Faust, and in this series in general is that magic is not a solution, but a tool. It’s fun to see how Daniel deals with a situation where he can’t rely on his usual sources. Where he needs to use his wit more than anything else. And Schaefer does not make it easy for him. There are hard decisions to make and near impossible situations to get away from. Maybe a tiny bit predictable, but still fun as hell.
I’m sure I mentioned this before, but I just love how Schaefer links his books together. They are all set in the same universe, and sometimes characters from different series cross each others’ paths. Like Harmony Black and Daniel Faust who both have their own series. But later they also cross paths with Nessa and Marie from The Wisdom’s Grave trilogy (I reviewed Sworn to the Night, Detonation Boulevard, and Bring the Fire on the blog previously), which also ties to the Ravenche Cycle. Why I’m bringing this up is because both in A Plain-Dealing Villain and The Killing Floor Blues a mysterious figure called The Smile pulls the strings from the background who goes on about a Story. In The Wisdom’s Grave trilogy the central mystery is set around the same Story. And I’m ashamed to admit that this didn’t click for me until Daniel meets Buddy. I’m not sure if this will be significant to the Daniel Faust series as a whole from here on, but personally, I could have kicked myself why I didn’t see that coming. It’s an interesting tidbit nonetheless if you are familiar with Schaefer‘s universe.
My only complaint – and this is a teeny tiny one – is that events in the last 20% or so go down really quickly. I felt like there could have been a bit more build-up maybe. But I’m really just nitpicking here because I can’t always write 100% glowing reviews for this series.
I always go into a Craig Schaefer novel with high expectations, and so far he never failed to deliver. But I also never know what to expect and I guess that’s what makes this series so damn addictive. I wouldn’t say The Killing Floor Blues was my favorite so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s not up to par with the rest. I can’t wait to find out who wins the war over Vegas.