Award-winning Scottish author Russell makes his American debut here, and it’s not only one of the most memorable thrillers of the year; it’s also unique: the premise is strikingly original, and the mood created by the juxtaposition of the patients’ memories and the real-time horrors is utterly chilling. Readers will eagerly await other books by the author becoming available stateside.
With some film noir-esque scenes of Kapitán Smolák chain smoking during a stakeout and policemen chasing a fugitive down foggy cobbled streets, it's no wonder that film rights have been preempted by Columbia Pictures. In this American debut, former police officer and Scottish author Craig Russell weaves a complex, intriguing and intellectually stimulating thriller, exploring criminal psychology through the kaleidoscopic lens of Jungian archetypes and Slavic mythology. The threads of this intricately woven plot intersect in fascinating ways ... As the tension in this book intensifies, the political tempest and collective madness of Nazi Germany looms in the background and infiltrates the asylum through two of the doctors, who wear Sudetendeutsche Partei pins. Any of the complex characters populating the novel could potentially be Leather Apron, and the forked tail of The Devil Aspect has a satisfying and brilliant twist at the end, tempting readers to return to the beginning.
Set in a time when human monsters are already roaming that part of the world fomenting hatred and death, the ending of this novel at the same time provides a staggering twist and a shocking disappointment, not a disappointment in the usual sense, but in that the reader’s expectations for the main characters are irrevocably shattered. Craig Russell’s manner of doing this is a deft bit of authorship because it is totally unexpected ... A horror story, a novel of psychological terror, or simply a mystery in a historical setting, The Devil’s Aspect is all three and more. It’s a novel the reader will remember and continue to think about long after that final sentence is read, while those with an ironic frame of mind will also realize Viktor’s promise to follow Judita to America has actually been kept.
A richly Gothic thriller that succeeds despite its excesses ... something of a hybrid of his previous books mashed up with Slavic folklore, German expressionist films, and the specter of Hitler’s rise to power. It’s a big, ambitious book whose parts end up being greater than the whole ... In its best moments, The Devil Aspect is a masterful blend of adjacent genres ... Smolák’s hunt for Leather Apron across the streets of Prague plays out like a Fritz Lang film, a trip through a shadowy labyrinth of streets in which not even one’s own senses can be trusted. That results in some great, evocative passages ... It takes a bit too long for Viktor and Smolák’s plotlines to connect, and by the time they do, Russell is rocketing to a conclusion that all feels a little too tidy. There’s a white-knuckle finale with some well-executed action, but the final pages don’t provide the closure the rest of the book seems to promise ... And yet, The Devil Aspect remains compelling. Though there are too many false leads and arguably too many serial killers roaming about, the individual elements work. Smolák is the sort of character who could helm his own series, and Russell’s ability to evoke the mood and atmosphere of the 1930s Czech Republic is impressive. While the big picture doesn’t totally gel, Russell finds the Devil in the details—and really makes him work.
[A] sensational serial killer novel in which twists are both jaw-dropping and logical ... Russell integrates the period’s political tensions into a mind-blowing story line that will appeal to fans of Caleb Carr and Thomas Harris.
Well-crafted ... Russell plants tantalizing parallels ... A seasoned writer, Russell keeps the police case moving at a good clip, more so than the clinical narrative and its unavoidable repetitions. Each has nice surprises but nothing to match the ending, which offers more twists than a Chubby Checker album ... A smart, atmospheric, and entertaining read but not for the Jung and easily Freudened.