Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Revelation 2:10
The Devil Inside begins with one of the most uncomfortable openings I’ve read for a while – and I mean that as a compliment. You’re immediately hooked. It’s a Sunday morning in 1987 – at church, two young altar boys, proud parents looking on, and a priest, standing comfortable in the power he wields over them all. Timely, sickening, the scene doesn’t give much away but it reels you into this excellent crime novel.
Cutting to present day, the book is set in a peaceful coastal town called Gull Bay. A young woman is found brutally murdered, a piece of scripture held tightly in her hand. Local detective Charlotte Callaghan is put on the case, and her first call is to her brother, Father Joseph Callaghan to ask about the verse. It turns out that verse had been used on the most recent church newsletter, so Charlotte’s suspicions fall on his parishioners. Then a second victim is found, along with another biblical message.
Charlotte is thrown into a full-on murder investigation that suggests there might be more murders to come. She’s glad for the distraction – Gull Bay can be a hard place to keep a secret, and she’s holding on to a few of her own, including one that she hasn’t even told her new boyfriend, one that he really should know.
For now, her focus is on catching a killer: a dark betrayal is concealed within the small community. For Charlotte, there’s something personal about this case, something that threatens the very core of her beliefs. Can she unravel this mystery before it tears her town apart?
This is a gripping crime novel about murder, betrayal and the monsters who hide in plain sight. The Devil Inside examines the line between good and evil, and how circumstance can alter a person’s life in the blink of an eye.
The story is told from four perspectives: Charlotte, her brother Joseph, and the killer, all in present day, and one altar boy in 1987. Charlotte is a particularly great character, with a lot of depth. Taut writing and excellent structure back up the excellent premise – D.L Hicks was a policeman and his insider knowledge of the force permeates this fabulous novel. It’s also his debut novel, and an excellent start to what I hope is a successful career as a crime writer.
This is a thought-provoking page turner and I for one want to read more from D.L. Hicks. In a market flooded with crime novels, the twists and turns in this will definitely keep you guessing, breathlessly wanting to know who the killer is.