The Devil Himself
reviewed by Eric Ellis
The Devil Himself by Peter Farris opens with the introduction of eighteen-year-old Maya. Maya finds herself gagged and bound in the trunk of a vehicle and is slated for murder. Maya is a sex trafficking victim and has outlived her usefulness because one of her politically powerful abusers coined “The Mayor” has told her too much information about Lucio Cottles and his criminal enterprise.
Lucio Cottles, a deadly and sociopathic street-wise savant, has created his own depraved world by ruling with his own amoral behavior and learning collected information truly is power and in more ways than one. Cottles is part of a larger criminal consortium secretly developing the woods of Southern Georgia for future criminal endeavors.
When Maya is able to escape and flee her pursuing captors into the deep Georgia woods, they encounter Leonard Moye on his wooded property. Moye, long from the culture of hills, takes great offense of outsiders seeking to do harm to others upon his property and after dealing with Cottle’s men, he allows refuge for Maya. Maya and Leonard then develop a mentor/student relationship with Leonard vowing to protect the remaining suspicious Maya.
Maya also makes it clear to Leonard the man who wants her dead will certainly not be dissuaded from sending even more dangerous men to clean up the mess created by the failure of the previous two.
Throughout the region, Leonard is both feared and respected, with many questioning his sanity due to his frequent public appearances with a female mannequin he identifies as his believed deceased wife, Marjean.
While the main theme of The Devil Himself of an outsider entering an unknown world while being protected by a mysterious benefactor may seem familiar or even a crime/thriller trope, Farris still is able to craft an interesting tale with interesting characters and plotting. Farris also tosses in new elements to a story where strangers from different worlds are thrown together in a time of turmoil in ways that distinct The Devil Himself from similarly plotted novels.
The Devil Himself is highly recommended to those readers that enjoy “rural noir” novels and novels from such authors as David Joy, Brian Panowich, and Kimi Cunningham Grant.
Netgalley provided an advanced reader copy of The Devil Himself for the promise of a fair review and is set to be released in May of 2022.