From the first page of Shervin Jamali’s The Devil’s Lieutenant, I was hooked. The author wasted no time in setting the tone of shock that carries throughout the book. The description of a husband and father walking into his home to find his wife standing over the body of their dead son is horrifying enough. Compound that vision with the wife holding a smoking gun and the image becomes more disturbing. This is the beginning of a tale of a man who makes a deal with the Devil and the price he pays for what he has been promised.
Without giving away too much of the story, it’s wise to keep in mind that Satan is often referred to as “The Father of Lies”. As the story time jumps, the stakes grow higher. The Devil plays on Michael’s grief and desperation, often twisting the truth to gain what he wants.
Parts of the story are amusing; the idea of Satan drinking coffee while Michael downs alcohol like bottled water is funny. Michael also has some humorous lines. He quotes an atheist writer from the past as he performs one of the deeds the Devil requires as part of the deal. Which brings us to the deal.
Lucifer, as he calls himself, wants to employ Michael, a former cop, to kill. His bargaining chip is nothing short of cruel. By tormenting Michael with visions of his wife and son both from the day of the shooting as well as the present, Lucifer gets the upper hand. As Michael struggles with his guilt over the death of his family and the chores Lucifer sets for him, he grows more desperate. It’s apparent this gives the Devil some pleasure as he goes out of his way to remind Michael of what has brought him to this point.
This is a far more complex story than it appears at first glance. It’s an intense examination of man’s constant battle with his darker side. Unable to cope with the shock of seeing his wife kneeling over the bleeding body of his dead son, a gun in her hand, he shoots her. Then, consumed by guilt, the sense of loss overwhelming, he withdraws from the world. Losing himself in alcohol, he feeds his depression sinking deeper into isolation. When Lucifer approaches him with a revelation that, in a twisted way, gives him purpose, he pulls himself together. Hating what he has been told, resigned to doing what the Devil wants, he is drawn into a sticky web of compliance.
What makes this story so good is the surprise at the conclusion. Michael has made a far greater conciliation than the reader realizes. He is a tool in the eternal battle between good and evil, between God and Lucifer.
This book is cleverly written, leading the reader along what seems to be an obvious road to an expected conclusion. Then the story takes a completely unexpected turn. The conflict between right and wrong, good and evil, is something most people can relate to, making this a compelling book I am pleased to recommend.
**NOTE** There IS a sequel to this book!
In the sequel to “The Devil’s Lieutenant,” Michael rides again. He may have discovered a loophole that will allow him to break his allegiance to Satan and finally be reunited with his family. But at what cost? He begins yet another nightmarish journey, perhaps even more heart-breaking than his last, as he seeks redemption and a chance to hold his wife and his son in his arms once again.
In the blink of an eye, Michael loses his family. As his life spirals out of control with grief, he is presented with the possibility that their souls might be trapped in Hell. Michael is a good man, a moral man, forced to do terrible things.
Thus begins an unimaginable and nightmarish journey to rescue his family from the depths of Hell, with the Devil as the puppet master pulling his strings.
Warning: Graphic violence and profanity included.
“Fast paced, dark, cleverly plotted” – S.G. Redling, author of Flowertown.
“An excellent first book from a promising new author” – Robert Cowan, author of The Search for Ethan.
“Jamali’s work read like fishing with dynamite. And I mean that in a good way” – Bradley Ernst, author of the Law of Retaliation series.
“It’s the legend of Faust updated for the twenty-first century” – Brendan Gisby, author of The Burrymen War.
“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until recently that it just seemed to click. I’ve had stories locked away, but suddenly, and unexpectedly, they now need to get out. I completed the first draft of “The Devil’s Lieutenant” in just two months, and that was as a result of writing when I had the opportunity to do so. My 8-5 job and family still came first. I look forward to the day when I can be a full time writer who can take my children to school, pick them up and chauffeur them to various activities, with a healthy dose of writing in between. I believe that day might be right around the corner.”